SMU finished the regular season with an impressive win on the road and hopes to ride that momentum when it takes on seventh-seeded Tulsa in the first round of the American Athletic Conference Tournament Thursday in Memphis. The 10th-seeded Mustangs had lost four in a row and nine of 10 before shooting 58 percent from the floor and outlasting South Florida 77-71 on Sunday.
"Maybe this will springboard (us)," SMU coach Tim Jankovich told the postgame radio show after the win. "We have a lot of work to do. That tournament's gonna be unbelievably hard. But who knows? The way we played (Sunday), maybe we can create a little magic." The Mustangs rolled to a 77-57 victory over Tulsa on Jan. 12 for their seventh win in the last nine meetings while draining 13 shots from 3-point range and holding the Golden Hurricane to 35.7 percent shooting from the field. Tulsa won five of seven games before suffering a tough 66-63 defeat at Memphis last Saturday and remains one victory away from reaching 19 wins for the fifth time in six seasons. Senior guard DaQuan Jeffries, a third team all-conference pick, leads the Golden Hurricane in scoring (13.0) and is second in rebounds (5.66) but is averaging only 6.3 points on 7-of-20 shooting overall the past three contests.
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ABOUT SMU (14-16): Senior guard Jahmal McMurray was named second team all-conference while leading the Mustangs in scoring (17.8) - averaging 19.3 over the past four games - and is second in the league in made 3-pointers (93). Sophomore forward Ethan Chargois averaged 17.7 points in the last three games after going scoreless against Cincinnati and is second on the team at 12.5 overall. Junior guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. (12.1 points, team highs of 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.4 steals) scored 14 on 7-of-11 shooting Sunday after missing two games with a shoulder issue.
ABOUT TULSA (18-13): The Golden Hurricane hope to have a more productive Jeffries in the tournament and for shooting guard Curran Scott to continue his hot streak after the junior averaged 17.5 points over the last four contests. Junior forward Martins Igbanu is the only other Tulsa player averaging in double figures scoring overall, registering 12.6 per game on 61.9 percent shooting from the field, and tops the team in rebounds (5.68). Sophomore forward Jeriah Horne (9.8 points), a Nebraska transfer, could be a factor after connecting on 9-of-15 from 3-point range the last three games.
1. Tulsa senior G Sterling Taplin leads the team in assists (4.1), but is just 12-of-38 from the field the last five games.
2. SMU freshman F Feron Hunt recorded season highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds Sunday for his first career double-double.
3. The winner of the first-round matchup will take on second-seeded Cincinnati in Friday's quarterfinals.
PREDICTION: SMU 74, Tulsa 70 Bet Now
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