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Monday, May 16, 2022

Men's Basketball

SMU gallops away with win

Point guard Zamal Nixon had a consistent performance with seven points, three assists and four rebounds in his 32 minutes of play, but the UH offense was never able to establish a rhythm. | Joshua Siegel/The Daily Cougar

After losing 64-51 to SMU, head coach James Dickey stressed that there are always two things that a basketball player can do.

“Everday I think you can play hard and I think you can play defense,” Dickey said.

“Some days you may not shoot the ball well, and some days you may not handle it well, but the two things you can do everyday are play hard and play defense. I’m a firm believer in that.”

The Cougars (12-12, 4-7 Conference USA) struggled to do either of those as the Mustangs continually found open looks and converted 57 percent from the field.

Inside, UH gave up 38 points in the paint and Mustangs forwards Papa Dia and Robert Nyakundi combined to post 43 points on 17-of-26 shooting.

“I made a bad decision not starting Adam (Brown) or Thib (Darian Thibodeaux) on Nyakundi. We started Alandise (Harris) on him, like we did up in Dallas, and it didn’t work out. Robert and Papa Dia just killed us in the first half. We switched in the second half, and our wings did a much better job on him.”

The Cougars hung with the Mustangs (16-9, 7-4) for the first 10 minutes of the second half, coming within three points of the lead after a 9-2 run with 9:18 remaining in the second half. SMU responded with a timeout and proceeded to finish off the Cougars.

The Mustangs ran off 15 straight points coming out of the timeout. The Cougars did not score for an 8:40 stretch, and SMU ran away with the lead.

“Probably the worst performance that we’ve had all year,” Dickey said. “It’s my job to get them ready, but we were not ready.

“We don’t have a guy who can individually go out and just have a big night and beat somebody. We have to play together and play with energy.”

The Cougars lack of aggressiveness combined with the Mustangs zone defense limited UH to only one free-throw attempt, and it came on a four-point play by Thibodeaux.

The last time UH attempted zero free throws was in 2005 against TCU.

“Offensively in the microcosm of things we can look at one column, and that’s free throws,” Dickey said. “We weren’t aggressive, and we didn’t attack, and we talked about that, about attacking the glass and making Dia and Nyakundi guard them.”

The Cougars will have to regroup quickly as they play second-place UTEP (19-7, 7-3) at 8:05 p.m. Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.

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