The SMU Mustangs came into Sunday’s game against the Temple Owls winners in 10 of their last 11 games. The Mustangs garnered wins against No. 7 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats and the No. 22 ranked Memphis Tigers during that run, which pushed Larry Brown’s Mustangs into the top 25 for the first time in 29 years. Unfortunately, for Brown and the Mustangs, it looks like that ranking will be short lived as they were out muscled by the Owls today 71-64.
The Owls exposed the major weakness of these Mustangs, rebounding. The Owls outrebounded the Mustangs by 13, 38-25. SMU is currently ranked 91sth in the country in total rebounds and only average 11.46 offensive rebounds per game (146th ranked). The Owls grabbed 12 offensive rebounds today while the Mustangs were only able to grab four. A team losing by that wide of a rebound margin rarely wins, and today was no different.
Second chance points are vital to any team, especially a team like the Mustangs who are trying to make their first NCAA Tournament since 1993. Forward Markus Kennedy scored 18 points, but was only able to grab five rebounds and only one offensive. Shawn Williams wasn’t a dominating presence inside either for the Mustangs as he was only able to grab five rebounds as well. Temple’s point guard Will Cummings (all 6-foot-2 of him) was able to equal both Kennedy and Williams with five boards himself.
It’s another bad road loss for the Mustangs (the other being to South Florida on Jan. 28), and will definitely hurt their hopes of seeing their name chosen on Selection Sunday. Brown’s NBA teams were known to be great rebounding teams, and if he hopes to get these Mustangs into the NCAA tournament, he will need to get his team stronger and more active on the glass. He’ll need to do it quickly as three of SMU’s last four games will be against teams currently ranked in the top 25, and two of those are on the road (Memphis and Connecticut).
Jason Love is a AAC Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JloveWshs