Without football, SMU fans haven't had much to cheer about lately. Thursday night, they got their chance.
Todd Alexander scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half as the Mustangs upset seventh-ranked Florida, 82-76, at Dallas, getting even for a 40-point defeat by the Gators last season.
"Now we know we can play with the top teams in the country," said Alexander, who made 12 of 13 free throws. "We could have a great season if we keep going like this."
SMU Coach Dave Bliss said, "It was one of the rare occasions where we got a Top 10 team on our own court. The crowd was terrific."
Florida (4-1), winner of last weekend's Big Apple NIT, fell behind, 52-32, at halftime before rallying in the second half.
The Gators cut the lead to 77-74 with 1:06 left, but Alexander made four free throws to keep SMU (3-0) in front. Alexander also made a pair of key three-point baskets in the second half.
"It's our first time in the Top 10, and obviously we couldn't handle it," Florida Coach Norm Sloan said.
Vernon Maxwell scored 20 points for Florida.
Kansas 68, W. Carolina 63--Danny Manning scored 30 points, including two free throws with 16 seconds left, and the 16th-ranked Jayhawks held off the Catamounts at Cullowhee, N.C.
The Jayhawks (3-2) led, 35-22, at halftime and raised their lead to 65-44 after a steal and layup by Lincoln Minor with 3:25 remaining.
But the Catamounts (1-1) scored 10 straight points and eventually pulled within 66-61 as Kansas missed the front end of six one-and-one free throw opportunities before Manning connected.
Hutchison and Andre Gault each scored 17 points for Western Carolina.
North Carolina 86, Stetson 74--Scott Williams scored 16 points and blocked six shots to lead the top-ranked Tar Heels past the Hatters at Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Tar Heels (4-0) were coasting along with an 80-51 lead with 7:13 left when Stetson (2-1) narrowed the gap with an 18-1 run, highlighted by Terry Johnson's three three-pointers.
That pulled the Hatters within 81-69 with 3:02 left, but they couldn't sustain the rally.
North Carolina shot 61%, compared to 43% for the Hatters, but Stetson, whose tallest starter is 6-8, outrebounded the Tar Heels, 37-28, and forced them into 18 turnovers.
Purdue 80, Wichita State 78--Todd Mitchell scored 20 points, including four in overtime, as the 11th-ranked Boilermakers escaped with a victory over the Shockers at Wichita, Kan.
Mitchell gave Purdue (3-1) an early lead in overtime and made two free throws with 2:27 left to make it 80-76.
Lew Hill's basket brought Wichita State (1-1) close with 44 seconds remaining, and the Shockers had a chance to tie the score following a turnover, but Dwight Praylow's 12-footer fell short as time ran out.
The loss broke Wichita State's 15-game home-court winning streak.
Tennessee 82, Marquette 56--Dyron Nix scored 21 points, and the Volunteers routed the Warriors at Knoxville, Tenn., in the opening game at the nation's largest on-campus college basketball arena.
A school-record crowd of 25,272 attended the game at Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena, where the capacity is officially listed as 24,535.
Tennessee (1-0) broke open the game with a finishing run of 28-7.
Michael Sims scored 13 points for Marquette (1-1).
New Mexico 72, New Mexico State 71--Darrell McGee drove the length of the court for a layup with one second left to push the Lobos past the Aggies at Albuquerque, N.M.
Hunter Greene scored 20 points for New Mexico (3-2), and Willie Joseph had 21 for New Mexico State (2-3), which has lost three one-point games.