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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dallas Morning News "SMU Men Can't Pull Off Upset"

SMU men can't pull off upset

By KATE HAIROPOULOS / The Dallas Morning News

UNIVERSITY PARK – Moody Coliseum rocked like it hasn't all season.

And SMU shocked No. 6 Memphis during Saturday night's regular-season finale right up until the final seconds.

The Mustangs gave Memphis – the team that beat SMU by almost 40 points only a month before – everything it could handle before surviving for a 64-61 victory. The Tigers (27-3) and coach John Calipari, in their first-ever visit to Moody, had to work harder and longer than most anyone expected.

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But they made just enough plays in the final minutes to stretch the nation's longest winning streak to 19 and wrap up a 16-0 Conference USA record.

It all came shockingly close to not happening.

A beleaguered SMU team (14-16, 3-13) that had lost 33 of its previous 34 games against ranked teams had a chance to tie the score at the buzzer. But senior forward Ike Ofoegbu's 3-point attempt from the left corner fell short of the rim.

SMU played much of the second half with only five available scholarship players because Donatas Rackauskas and Jon Killen had fouled out.

Memphis didn't take the lead for good until Chris Douglas-Roberts hit a 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining to make the score 59-57.

Ofoegbu hit one of two free throws to pull SMU within one with 1:37 left. But Memphis' Joey Dorsey put in a rebound bucket after a wild 3-point attempt by Jeremy Hunt.

SMU's Dez Willingham missed an awkward-looking 3-point attempt.

Hunt made one of two free throws with 22.3 second left to make it 62-58.

Senior Devon Pearson gave SMU one more chance by drilling a 3-pointer with 13.9 seconds remaining to pull within one.

Douglas-Roberts then missed two free throws but got his own long rebound to go back to the line.

This time he made both shots to put Memphis up by three.

Ofoegbu's final shot at the buzzer fell well short.

SMU seniors Ofoegbu ( 21 points), Pearson ( 16 points) and Rackauskas (14 points) led the spirited effort on senior night. Douglas-Roberts led Memphis with 19 points.

Memphis had essentially strolled through league play. It had only one other single-digit win, 67-64 over Southern Mississippi in January.

The Mustangs, the No. 11 seed in next week's C-USA tournament at Memphis' FedExForum, will meet No. 6 seed Southern Miss at 2:30 p.m. in Wednesday's first round.

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