via The Sports Xchange
Nearly 51 years passed since Southern Methodist last had a win over one of the top two teams in the country, but the Mustangs beat second-ranked Arizona 66-60 on Thursday night at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
It was the first time SMU defeated a second-ranked team since March 17, 1967, when the Mustangs defeated Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.
SMU prevailed despite hitting just 31.4 percent of its shots from the floor.
“Couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. “I always say this and everybody thinks I’m lying, but I’m not when I say this: The best wins of the year are always when you can’t get your shots to go in the basket and you find a way to win anyway. That’s how great seasons are made.”
SMU senior guard Ben Emelogu II scored a team-high 20 points.
It was the second consecutive upset defeat for the No. 2 Wildcats (3-2). Arizona fell 90-84 to North Carolina State on Wednesday.
SMU (5-1) caused 20 turnovers that resulted in 19 points. The Mustangs also had 20 offensive rebounds to Arizona’s 11.
“We had 23 more shots than they did, and that’s huge,” Emelogu said. “We always need that, and Coach always emphasizes being an offensive rebounding team, a rebounding team period.
“We have smaller size than they do and a lot of other teams in the country. We focus on boxing out in practice and going hard to the boards. That’s one of our points of emphasis on the team. We just have to keep doing it.”
Arizona rallied from 11 points down with a 13-0 run to take a 53-51 lead, but the Mustangs didn’t panic and bounced back to take a 64-57 lead with 1:07 left.
“They shot 31 percent for the game but our inability to get first-shot defensive rebounds and some free-throw blockouts (hurt us),” Arizona assistant coach Mark Phelps said on the team’s postgame radio show. “(It was) offensive rebounding on their end and untimely turnovers on our end.”
SMU’s Shake Milton had 14 points and freshman Ethan Chargois added 12.
The Mustangs held a lead midway through the second half behind Chargois, who hit back-to-back layups and a free throw. Emelogu sank a 3-pointer to extend the lead. Emelogu then hit his fifth trey of the game to extend SMU’s advantage to 49-38. Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit 15-footer to inch the Wildcats closer.
Allonzo Trier led Arizona with 22 points. Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 15 rebounds for his fifth consecutive double-double. The two combined for Arizona’s final 20 points, but it was hardly enough.
Where does Arizona go from here with so many young players? Well, the Wildcats played better in Thursday’s loss.
“(That’s) in terms of the intensity, the togetherness, the communication and connectedness,” Phelps said. “I think tonight we took a step forward in that category.”
Arizona jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead and looked poised to recover from its loss to North Carolina State. The Wildcats hit six of their first eight shots and limited SMU to a couple of baskets with a more intense defense compared to the night before.
However, SMU steadily came back behind Emelogu’s 14 first-half points. SMU went on a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 22-21.
The two teams exchanged leads throughout the rest of the first half as Arizona cooled down offensively, reverting to long jump shots that didn’t go down. SMU could have easily taken the lead at the half, but it failed to convert on three easy baskets down the stretch. Arizona led at the half 31-30.
Ayton was limited to five first-half points because of foul trouble. He played only 13 minutes after picking up his second foul.