SMU Basketball wins their fifth straight in front of second sold out crowd at new Moody Coliseum
By Tommy Smith
Photos courtesy BlueandCrimson.com
DALLAS — The SMU Mustangs (17-5, 6-3) dished out the first conference road loss for the 22nd ranked Memphis Tigers (16-5, 6-3) in almost two years Saturday in front of a ruckus sellout crowd of 7,058 at Moody Coliseum. The 87-72 victory was the Mustangs second over a ranked opponent in their last five home games, as SMU dumped Connecticut 74-65 in the opener of their newly renovated home court January 4th. SMU had not beaten two ranked opponent in the same season since 1984-85. The Mustangs improved to 2-1 against teams in the top 25 so far this season.
SMU Forward Markus Kennedy scored a career high 21 points and recorded a career best 15 rebounds, while point guard Nic Moore scored 14 points adding 10 assists marking the first time the Mustang had two players record double-doubles in the same game since December 1st 2012.
Kennedy was a perfect 10-10 from the field as the Mustangs shot 54.8% from the floor for the game. After the game, SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said the NCAA had provided a waiver to allow SMU to fly Kennedy home to Philadelphia to visit his military mother, who is about to return to the Middle East for another tour of duty.
The game was close throughout the first half with the teams tied at 29 at the break. However, SMU went on a 1-7 run to open up a double-digit lead 46-36 just 3:18 into the second frame. “We got punched in the mouth at the start of the second half and we didn’t recover,” said Memphis coach Josh Pastner.
Joe Jackson led Memphis with 22 points, while Geron Johnson had 18 and Michael Dixon Jr. 13. Dominic Woodson had 11 rebounds. Memphis was outscored 52-32 in the paint and trailed by as many as 25 points midway through the second half.
SMU improved to 11-0 at home this season and has won all five games at they have played at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs have won six of their last seven ballgames and are 2-2 versus the current top four teams in the American Athletic Conference and are now tied with Memphis a half-game ahead of UConn which is 5-3 and is idle this weekend.
“Everybody when you get into conference play, you have got to realize everybody can beat you. We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Brown said. “It’s one thing trying to beat a team that people don’t expect you to win, but it’s another learning how to win on the road against a team that people expect you to win.
That remark was a reference to the Mustangs 78-71 loss in Florida to USF last week. SMU should be expected to win again Tuesday night when they host Temple (6-14, 1-7). However, the AAC’s best team thus far this season, Cincinnati, makes their appearance in front of what should be another sellout crowd at Moody Coliseum next Saturday. A win over the Bearcats who play USF at home Sunday and have won 13 straight, while off to their best start through 22 games since 2001-02, might be the signature win the Mustangs need to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.