Maroons men's basketball holds off Southwestern 74-71

CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Chicago men's basketball team recovered from a slow start and got enough offense down the stretch to defeat Southwestern University (Texas) 74-71 in the UAA/SCAC Challenge on Saturday.

The Maroons improved to 2-0 while the Pirates (0-1) dropped their season debut.

A physical opening half featured lots of contact and plenty of whistles from the referees. The two teams combined for 24 fouls and 26 free throws over the first 20 minutes of the game. With so many stoppages, the Maroons struggled to get into a rhythm offensively in the half court. Meanwhile, the Pirates created open three-pointers for themselves (5-for-11) and burned the hosts with a number of backdoor cuts to the basket.

The visitors led 20-10 midway through the first half. But UChicago chipped away at the advantage with superior athleticism to go into halftime only down four points at 34-30. Point guard Royce Muskeyvalley was a catalyst with 10 points in 13 minutes of play.

Once the second half commenced, freshman Jordan Smith turned up the heat offensively. The 6-foot-4 guard began to find his range with eight-straight points for the Maroons. He ended up scoring 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half.

Wayne Simon's three-point play in the paint put UChicago back into the lead at 55-53 with 10:33 left in the game. Sam Gage nailed a trey and Muskeyvalley stole the ball and scored in transition to push the margin to seven points. However, Southwestern stormed right back with a 10-0 run to retake the lead 63-60.

The score was knotted at 70-70 with 1:22 left on the clock. Smith put up another jumper that bounced around in the cylinder and fell through to put the home team up by two points. Four missed free throws by the Maroons in the final minute kept the result in doubt. But Southwestern's desperation heave at the buzzer missed to preserve the UChicago victory 74-71.

UChicago shot 57.7 percent in the second half (15 of 26) and 48.9 percent overall in the game. The Maroons held a 27-22 rebounding edge while making 23 of 31 free throws. The two teams combined for 27 turnovers.

Chicago Stat Leaders
Jordan Smith - 21 points, 4 rebounds
Sam Gage - 14 points
Royce Muskeyvalley - 12 points, 5 assists
Charlie Hughes - 8 points, 8 rebounds
Wayne Simon - 11 points
Matt MacKenzie - 4 points, 7 rebounds

Southwestern Stat Leaders
Michael Cantu - 18 points, 7 rebounds
Travis Kurtz - 11 points, 7 rebounds
Chase Kocher - 11 points, 4 assists

NEXT GAME: Sunday, Nov. 18 - Trinity (Texas) University at UChicago, 4 PM.