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SMU beats Wyoming for the fifth straight time in hoops

Dec 22, 2013 - The Associated Press

LARAMIE -- Markus Kennedy scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Nick Russell hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to lead SMU to its fifth straight victory, a 62-54 win over Wyoming on Friday night.

Wyoming was led by Larry Nance Jr.'s 16 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. He was coming off a 38-point, 12-rebound performance in a loss against Denver last week. Jerron Granberry added 12 points and Josh Adams 10 for the Cowboys (7-4).

The game featured five ties and 10 lead changes before the Mustangs (10-2) took a 54-52 lead on a Russell 3-pointer with 3:55 remaining. After Adams missed a 14-footer and Nance failed to hit a free throw, Keith Frazier clinched it with a long jumper for SMU to make it 57-52 with 1:42 left.

"I thought the last four minutes we really closed out well," SMU coach Larry Brown said. "Last year we didn't win one of these. We found ways to give games away, so this will help us."

SMU, which entered the game holding opponents to 35.7 percent from the field, stayed true to form, limiting Wyoming to 34.8 percent (16 of 46). The Mustangs outrebounded the Cowboys 39-29, marking the 11th time in 12 games that SMU won the boards.

"That's what we work on every single day," Kennedy said of the Mustangs' defense and rebounding. "That's the identity of our team. It was tough, though, don't get me wrong. Larry Nance is one of the best players I've played against in a long time."

Russell, who was shooting only 23 percent from beyond the arc, hit the only long ball he took, but it came at a critical stage, when his team was down two late.

"It was just an open shot," said Russell, who had nine points. "It's a shot I've taken thousands of times, but I've been struggling with the 3-ball for a while now. In the warm-ups, I was able to make a few. I was feeling good."

Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said he was disappointed in the loss but said that SMU is a good team.

"We've lost to four teams who will be in postseason play," Shyatt said. "We need to start beating teams who are going to be in postseason play."

"As good a job as we did in the paint the first half, our defense was really, really porous in the second half," he said. "But we still had an opportunity to win that ball game with three and a half minutes to play and really just didn't execute what we wanted to get done on the offensive end."

Cannen Cunningham's tip-in put SMU ahead 43-38 before Wyoming clawed back one last time. Adams' one-man fast-break layup gave the Cowboys their last lead at 52-51 at the 4:21 mark before Russell's heroics.

SMU erased a one-point halftime deficit by scoring the first three baskets of the second half, the last coming from Russell to put the Mustangs up 27-22 with 17:44 left. Wyoming used a 3 and two foul shots by Nathan Sobey to complete an 11-4 surge and claim a 33-31 lead.

The Mustangs' Ryan Manual went to the line to tie it at 33 before Sobey made another free throw and Derek Cooke Jr. slammed a dunk to leave Wyoming ahead 36-33 at the 13:32 mark.

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