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Strong second-half propels No. 24 SMU past Tulane

Strong second-half propels No. 24 SMU past Tulane
Published On: Sun, Feb 28
Feb 23, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tulane Green Wave guard Leslie Vorpahl (11) shoots over Connecticut Huskies guard Saniya Chong (12) during the first half of a game at the Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS -- A strong second half propelled No. 24 SMU to a 74-53 win over Tulane and a tie for first place in the American Athletic Conference on Sunday.

Forward Jordan Tolbert scored all 11 of his points in the second half to lead SMU back from a 1-point deficit at halftime.

"The way Jordan started the second half, I think he set the tone," SMU coach Larry Brown said. "He started dominating inside."

SMU (24-4, 12-4 in the AAC) is tied with Temple for the AAC lead with two games remaining. Three other AAC teams -- Cincinnati, Tulsa and Houston -- have 11 conference wins and Connecticut has 10.

SMU shot 64 percent in the second half, up from 38 percent in the first half, while holding Tulane (10-19, 3-13) to 32 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.

Forward Ben Moore led the Mustangs with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Moore scored 10 of his points in the first half while SMU was frustrated by Tulane changing defenses. The 6-foot-8 Moore also had three steals, two blocks, two assists and was 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

"He does a little bit of everything, he's so versatile," guard Shake Milton said. "He creates so much for us and that really gets us going."

Guard Sterling Brown shook off flu symptoms and scored 15 and had five rebounds and four assists.

Point guard Nic Moore, normally SMU's standout performer, was just 1-of-9 from the field for five points. Freshman guard Shake Milton took up the scoring slack with 14 points.

SMU trailed at halftime for just the fifth time this season, thanks in part to 12 turnovers, then broke out on a 13-4 run to open the second half.

The Mustangs scored 21 points off turnovers, including 14 in the second half.

"Our defense is the key to us," SMU guard Jarrey Foster said. "When we start playing defense, everything else just comes together naturally. We really don't worry about our offense. Our defense is our offense."

Tolbert sparked SMU's rally by scoring seven points in the first three minutes of the second half. After a 3-pointer by guard Sterling Brown and free throws by Ben Moore, SMU led by double figures, 43-33, with 14:48 to play.

Tulane got back within three, 45-42, on a 3-pointer by guard Malik Morgan with 12:39 left.

However, that was Tulane's last field goal for the next eight minutes. The Green Wave missed 10 consecutive shots from the field as SMU built a 20-point lead, 66-46, with 4:39 to play.

"We couldn't get makes," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. "It was harder to change defenses on them and try to keep them off balance. So I think everything in the second half was really dictated by their defensive effort to start the half."

Tulane scored the last five points of the first half to post a 29-28 lead at the break. The Green Wave took advantage of back-to-back turnovers by SMU and converted them into a breakaway dunk by guard Malik Morgan and two free throws by guard Louis Dabney.

SMU shook off some early shooting rust to surge ahead 17-13. Tulane answered SMU with a minor run of its own and pull ahead 21-19 on guard Cameron Reynolds' 3-pointer with 5:57 left.

SMU then put together its best run of the half, highlighted by Ben Moore's dunk. A 3-pointer by guard Shake Milton gave SMU a 28-21 lead with 3:40 to play in the half.

NOTES: Houston topped Connecticut, 75-68, on Sunday to become the fifth American Athletic Conference team with at least 11 league wins heading into the final week of the regular season. ... SMU plays its final home game Thursday against UConn and finishes its season Sunday at Cincinnati. ... SMU is now 3-2 in games it trailed at halftime this season. ... Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, an SMU alum, sat courtside. ... Tulane G Louis Dabney needs 25 points to move into the Top 10 of the school's all-time scoring list. He is ranked 11th with 1,404 points. ... SMU leads the all-time series with Tulane 18-13. SMU won the season's first meeting in New Orleans, 60-45.

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Name Pos
Semi Ojeleye F
Nic Moore G
Ben Moore F
Jordan Tolbert F
Ben Emelogu G
Markus Kennedy F
Keith Frazier G
Jonathan Wilfong G
Sterling Brown G
Jarrey Foster G
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