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SMU suffers confounding loss just when it was looking like Texas’ best hope

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Southern Methodist head coach Larry Brown talks with guard Nic Moore during the second half against South Florida …

SMU and Texas are looking like the Lone Star state's best hopes of an NCAA tournament participant after the state was shut out of the tournament last year.

The Final Four is in AT&T Stadium in Arlington in April. While no team from Texas has much of a chance to advance to the final weekend of the season, it would be at least less of a black eye if the state sent a team or two to the tournament.

But SMU's resume took a hit Tuesday when it suffered an unexpected loss on the road to an 11-10 South Florida team that it had beaten earlier this month by 17 points.

Nic Moore scored 23 for the Mustangs who didn't rebound or defend well, allowing South Florida to make nearly 53 percent of its shots. Victor Rudd had 23 for the Bulls.

It's probably not an outing that is going to send veteran coach Larry Brown into panic mode. Even the best teams have off nights over the course of a season.

But losing to the Bulls does tighten the margin for error for the Mustangs the rest of the way because they're really lacking quality wins in nonconference play.

They will have a handful of opportunities to redeem themselves in the coming weeks in the American Athletic Conference. SMU will face Memphis twice and Louisville and Cincinnati once before the end of the regular season.

Win a couple of those games and Tuesday's loss to the Bulls will likely be viewed as a bad outing in the middle of a solid season. But if Brown's team fails to win any of those games, Tuesday's loss could be a stain that begs questions about the Mustangs.

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Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kyle.ringo@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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