After another convincing win over Temple 75-52, SMU Basketball looks towards Saturday showdown with #7 Cincinnati
By Tommy Smith
DALLAS — In front of another sold out crowd that was littered with some of the more notable who’s who in DFW, the SMU Mustangs dominated the Temple Owls from the opening tip on their way to a 75-52 victory. The Mustangs (18-5, 7-3) improved to 12-0 at home. Six of those victories have come at the newly renovated Moody Coliseum. SMU’s remodeled home court is rapidly becoming the place to be for local sports fans who are forever hungry for a winner. Tonight’s sellout was the third of the season. SMU has already announced sellouts against Cincinnati and Louisville guaranteeing the Mustangs at least five, which ties the school record for most sold out home games since 1984-85.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo were just two of the celebrities in the house for Thursday’s wire to wire victory over Temple (6-15, 1-8). In addition, Deon Sanders, Samuel Dalembert, Buck Showalter and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings were all in attendance to catch a glimpse of the amazing story SMU head coach Larry Brown and the Mustang basketball team is currently scripting.
“There is no reason why we can’t be a premier program,” Brown said after the game. “We’ve got a facility, we are in a terrific league and we got a great school… We’ll see what happens.”
What happened on the court was much of the same for SMU, who played outstanding defense against an extremely balanced Temple offense. The Owls entered the game as the only team in the country with four of its five starters averaging 14 points or more per game. SMU guards Nick Russell, Nic Moore and Shawn Williams shut down Temple’s back court of Dalton Pepper, Quenton Decosey and Will Cummings. The Temple trio was averaging a combined 49 points per game but scored just 31 on the night. Pepper, Williams and Decosey shot 12 of 43 from the floor. “I think our guards played great,” said Brown. “That’s how you win games.
SMU’s defense which ranks first in the American Athletic Conference and third in the nation in opponents field goal percentage held the Owls to just 30% from the floor. The Owls 52 points marked the fewest they have scored in a game this season.
SMU forward Markus Kennedy set the tone early, scoring eight of the Mustangs first 10 points. Kennedy finished the night with 14 points and nine rebounds falling just short of his seventh career double-double. Kennedy has now led the Mustangs in points and rebounds in eight of SMU’s last 12 games. Shawn Williams also had 14 points, posting his third double-digit game this season. After being named to the AAC honor roll last week for the fifth time this season, point guard Nic Moore scored 11 points while dishing out seven assists.
Guard Keith Frazier and forward Ben Moore provided the production from a deep SMU bench which outscored Temple 30-9 in the win. SMU’s bench has now outscored its opponents reserves in 16 of 23 games this season, including 11 of the last 15. The Mustang bench was non-existent for Coach Brown and SMU last season. This year however, the reserves are averaging 28.7 points per game and have put up 30 or more points 13 times this season, doing so in 3 of the last 6 SMU games.
This could have been a trap game for SMU who beat 22nd ranked Memphis 87-72 Saturday and now prepares for a rematch against seventh ranked Cincinnati who beat SMU 65-57 in the conference opener January first. The Bearcats (23-2, 12-0) lead the AAC by two games over the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals and have won 16 straight games. Cincy beat UConn 63-58 Thursday night.
“We got a win,” said Brown. “I Think we were all concerned about this game ’cause everywhere I went people where talking about Saturday… our program is not is not where we know how to win games we are supposed to win, yet. That’s a tough thing.”
SMU remains tied for third place with Memphis in the conference. A win over Cincinnati could give the Mustangs their first appearance in the AP Top 25 since March 5, 1985. It would be SMU’s third victory over a ranked opponent this season and move their record to 3-2 against the big four of Louisville, UConn, Memphis and Cincinnati in the AAC.
Barring a tremendous collapse, many think SMU will be invited to the NCAA Tournament in March. A signature win over a top 10 school like Cincinnati would go a long way to make that expectation reality. Larry Brown has said he never doubted his program would get there when he took the job before last season. It would appear the feeling that time is now is beginning to spread around the metroplex and across the nation.