The Mustangs did just that Sunday in Houston.
Nic Moore had a career-high 28 points as SMU overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Houston 75-68 Sunday and push the Mustangs' win streak to five games.
Moore was 8 of 18 and connected on 11 of 12 from the free throw line as SMU (16-4, 5-2 American Athletic Conference) shot 61.5 percent in the second half. Moore's previous career-high was 25 points at Stanford March 19, 2012 when he was at Illinois State.
"The second half I was trying to let the game come to me," Moore, who scored 22 points in the second half, said. "The first half I was rushing things. I got the team into some sets, and it just ended back in my hand. It was a total team effort, and it was a good road win."
The Mustangs improved to 4-3 on the road this season.
"I told our guys, in order to win we had to come out and play great ball," Brown said of his halftime speech. "It started with execution, taking good shots, and taking care of the ball, and we didn't do any of that."
Markus Kennedy added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Nick Russell had 10 points for SMU, which was 27 of 32 from the free throw line, including 17 of 20 in the second half.
Danuel House led Houston with 22 points, and TaShawn Thomas added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars (11-9, 3-4), who dropped their fourth in the last five games.
Houston shot 56.5 percent in the second half and just under 48 percent in the game, including 8 of 18 from behind the arc, but the Cougars turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 16 points.
"Just a very disappointing second half for us," Houston coach James Dickey said. "Obviously, Nic (Moore) was outstanding for them, but we defended so well in the first half. We did a good job on the offensive end in the second half. We were not very good defensively. I don't want to take anything away from them, but they got too many easy baskets. You just can't let one guy go off like that. He had a tremendous second half.
The Mustangs used a quick 6-0 spurt to push their lead to 57-52 on a Russell jumper with 6:23 to go. Houston closed within 59-58 with 4:57 remaining on a House 3-pointer, but the Cougars went cold from there.
"One of the things we do once we make the adjustments is try to get the guys back out to where they get going," Dickey said. "We want to make sure we get back with enough time. Whatever I'm doing one way or the other it has not been very good. We have to do a better job than that."
Houston missed 3-pointers on consecutive possessions followed by a missed layup by L.J. Rose and a missed dunk by Thomas before a turnover.
Moore pushed SMU's lead to 63-58 on a free throw with 2:20 left before House missed a 3-pointer on Houston's next possession. Moore hit a layup next time down to push the Mustangs' lead to seven.
"We went zone late, and they scored five points off the zone with double penetration and that's why we gave up the uncontested outside shot," Brown said. "But we did make free throws. . When you finish games you've got to make free throws, but there's a lot of things defensively that we could have done better."
SMU opened the second half with a 9-1 run to take a 34-32 lead on a Russell jumper with 16:27 remaining. Houston responded to regain a 44-40 advantage with 12:30 left on a Tione Womack jumper.
Houston started off slow, missing its first five shots before Thomas hit a layup with 13:49 left in the first half to cut SMU's lead to 7-5.
The Mustangs went 4:54 without hitting a field goal late in the first half before a Nic Moore layup with 2 seconds left. The Cougars took advantage of SMU's dry spell with a 10-2 run to grab a 31-23 lead with 1:14 remaining on a House layup. House had all 10 points for Houston in the run.
Houston led 31-25 at the half as SMU struggled from the field in the first half, shooting just under 27 percent, including 1 for 7 for 3-pointers.