SMU Basketball looks to stay perfect at home in second game at the New Moody Coliseum
Special to Rattle and Hum Sports
SMU (11-4, 1-2 American) returns to the renovated Moody Coliseum for a mid-week conference clash against USF (10-6, 1-2) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The game is part of ESPN’s “My Home Court” Week (#MyHomeCourt), a week-long celebration of some of the best and most historic venues in the sport.
The Mustangs are a perfect 7-0 at home this year, including a 74-65 win on Jan. 4 against No. 17/15 Connecticut in the first game at the renovated Moody Coliseum. SMU is averaging 80.3 points per game at home, and has an average scoring margin of +23.0. Prior to its win over Connecticut, the Mustangs went a perfect 6-0 in games at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. The Mustangs are shooting 54.8 percent in home games, and are holding opponents to 33.8 percent from the field.
On defense, SMU is holding opponents to 36.5 percent from the field (1st American, 4th NCAA) and 62.3 points per game (2nd AAC, 24th NCAA). SMU has held 18 of its last 24 (12 of 15 this year) opponents under 40% shooting. SMU is also leading the league in rebound margin (+9.2, 9th NCAA), outrebounding 14 of 15 opponents. The only opponent to outrebound SMU was [RV/-] Texas A&M (37-33) on Nov. 30 (W, 55-52) and the best margin was +26 (46-20) versus Sam Houston State on Nov. 26 (W, 72-53).
On offense, SMU is shooting 49.1 percent (1st American, 14th NCAA) and 40.1 percent from 3-point range (2nd American), while averaging 15.6 assists (2nd AAC, 35th NCAA). The team is averaging 72.8 points per game with seven Mustangs averaging at least 5.5 points. Nic Moore (13.3) and Markus Kennedy (10.5) are averaging double figures. Individually, Nic Moore is second in the American in 3-point percentage (.515, 35-68). Additionally, the Mustangs have outscored all 15 opponents in the paint by an average of 34.8-19.5.
Nic Moore was named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll for the fourth time this season on Jan. 6 (Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Dec. 9, Jan. 6), averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 assists in the Mustangs’ first two conference games. On Dec. 23, Markus Kennedywas also named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll, while junior center Yanick Moreira has been listed once (Nov. 25). FreshmanBen Moore was The American Rookie of the Week on Nov. 18. Nic Moore was also named to the Corpus Christi Challenge All-Tournament Team.
RECEIVING VOTES: SMU received votes in the AP poll on Jan. 6 (9 votes) and Dec. 23 (1 vote). This is the first season SMU has received votes since 2003-04 (Dec. 23, 2003).
RPI WATCH: The Mustangs enter the week at No. 40 in the NCAA Men’s Basketball RPI, one of five American Athletic Conference teams in the top 40. SMU is 2-4 against teams in the RPI top 100, with wins over No. 27 Connecticut and at No. 88 Wyoming. All four of the Mustangs’ losses have come against teams in the top 100, including three in the top 40.
LAST GAME (L, 71-63 VS. NO. 12/8 LOUISVILLE ON JAN. 12) – LOUISVILLE (AP) – Luke Hancock’s career-high 23 points, including two free throws with 46 seconds remaining, helped No. 12 Louisville hold off SMU for a 71-63 victory Sunday in a meeting of Hall of Fame coaches. Hancock’s second straight 20-point game helped Rick Pitino’s Cardinals (14-3, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) get the final word in his first collegiate matchup against Larry Brown and his Mustangs (11-4, 1-2). Making his first start despite dealing with a left Achilles issue, the senior guard made 8 of 15 from the field — 4 of 9 from 3-point range — to help keep Louisville ahead in a tense game that Montrezl Harrell finally settled with a dunk and a block after Hancock’s free throws. Russ Smith scored 23 points and Harrell added 12 points and 13 rebounds as Louisville bounced back from Thursday’s loss to No. 24 Memphis with 47 percent shooting, despite being outrebounded 48-35 including 20-6 on the offensive end. Markus Kennedy had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first start of the season for SMU while Shawn Williams added 10 points. Although the Mustangs controlled the boards, they managed to hit just 24 of 65 from the field (a season-low 37 percent), well below their league-best 50 percent mark coming in. SMU made just 13 of 25 free throws and were only 2 of 11 from beyond the arc. Hancock, Smith and Terry Rozier combined for nine of Louisville’s 10 3-pointers on 23 attempts. The biggest attraction was the first-ever collegiate meeting between Hall of Famers Pitino and Brown, who brought 2,554 combined victories and three NCAA titles into the contest. Sunday marked the third of eight scheduled matchups nationwide between Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame members, and these two will meet again on March 5 when the Cardinals face the Mustangs in Dallas. Pitino, who just entered the Hall in September, made a point of heading down the sideline to greet Brown, 73, as the two exchanged pleasantries. From there it was all business between two schools fighting to contend in the AAC. SMU was playing for the first time since upsetting then-No. 17 Connecticut on Jan. 4 and seeking its second straight win against a ranked opponent. Besides having the AAC’s best shooting outfit, the Mustangs also had the No. 2 field goal defense (36 percent), both of which presented challenges for a Cardinals team that was out of sync on both ends of the court in Thursday’s loss to No. 24 Memphis. But SMU also entered without 6-foot-11 center Yanick Moreira, out 2 to 3 weeks after spraining his right medial collateral ligament on Friday. Brown started the 6-9 Kennedy for the first time in his place, a move that led Pitino to start Hancock for the first time this season in an attempt to match up with the Mustangs’ beefier lineup. Louisville’s switch yielded better shooting results as the Cardinals hit 25 of 53 from the field, the best the Mustangs have allowed this season. Their 3-point accuracy was especially critical in a game in which SMU controlled the inside 34-28, points off turnovers (16-13), second-chance points (18-3) and bench scoring (24-8). Smith’s 15 points helped Louisville lead 37-25 at halftime. Harrell’s free throw with 2:29 remaining, Smith’s drive through several defenders for a layup 27 seconds later and a free throw with 1:16 left put Louisville up 67-58.
UP NEXT: The Mustangs will start a stretch of three games in four days on Saturday, playing at UCF on Jan. 18, home against Hofstra on Jan. 19 and home against Rutgers on Jan. 21. The Hofstra game was rescheduled from Dec. 7 due to inclement weather.
THE SERIES VS. USF (2-2): SMU is 2-2 against South Florida after falling to the Bulls in back-to-back season openers in 2008 and 2009. The Mustangs won 79-65 at home on Dec. 6, 1986 and then tallied an 87-66 victory at South Florida on Dec. 14, 1987 to take the opening two games of the series. The Mustangs and Bulls have split the two meetings in Dallas.