February 06, 2016

SMU sounds like it saw this coming.

Following its second loss in three games since an extended unbeaten start, the Mustangs look to get back on track defensively as they visit South Florida on Sunday.

The No. 12 Mustangs (19-2, 8-2 AAC) have given up 76.0 points per game in their 1-2 stretch after allowing 61.9 during the first 18 contests. SMU allowed Houston to shoot 46.4 percent and go 7 for 16 from 3-point range in a 71-68 road loss Monday.

The Mustangs didn't seem that surprised with the result.

''Now every game is going to be like this,'' said coach Larry Brown, whose team holds a half-game lead in the conference. ''We experienced it at Temple (in an 89-80 defeat Jan. 24). We are going to experience it every night. People are going to give us their best shot. They are going to be prepared for us, and I think we need to learn to embrace it.''

Houston made 55 percent in the second half, while SMU went 8 of 27 after the break to finish at 40.4 percent for the second straight game. The Mustangs hit at a 51.6 percent clip during their 18-0 start.

''To me, teams are more excited to play us than we are to play them,'' said forward Jordan Tolbert, who averages 12.0 points but has scored in single digits in three of his past four. ''We have to get back (to being) hungry. A lot of people are gunning for us now.''

SMU, in the top 10 in the country with a plus-10.4 rebounding differential, was dominated 41-27 on the boards and 15-8 on the offensive glass.

''I think we have had slippage in a lot of areas,'' Brown said. ''In some ways I think we are worrying about things that really aren't that important. We won by doing a great job on the boards, and we haven't done that recently. I have seen it, but I also understood that every game will be a lot tougher based on how we started the season.''

The Mustangs should have a good chance to get back on track against South Florida (5-19, 2-9), which they've beaten three straight times and four of five, taking the first matchup of the season 72-58 at home Jan. 2. SMU has posted a margin of victory of 19.0 in those four wins.

The Bulls haven't had much success against anyone this season, getting blown out 88-57 at Cincinnati on Thursday. South Florida was outscored 52-28 in the second half.

"We needed to keep fighting and we just couldn't get anything really going," coach Orlando Antigua told the team's official website about the final 20 minutes. "Some of the decisions we made led to them turning some of the turnovers into quick transition points."

Leading scorer Jahmal McMurray had 17 points but went 6 of 17 from the floor for South Florida, which shot 39.2 percent and went 3 of 15 from behind the arc.

Forward Bo Zeigler went 5 of 7 for 10 points. He scored a season-high 12 and shot 5 of 7 at SMU last month.

The Bulls have dropped 19 in a row to Top 25 opponents by an average of 18.6 points. They've lost six home games in a row overall.

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