Sterling Brown SMU

SMU guard Sterling Brown looks over the Houston Cougars’ defense during the Mustangs 68-64 win at Moody Coliseum
Photo by Jennifer Thorsen photography for Rattle and Hum sports

The SMU Mustangs prove to be too much for the Houston Cougars

By Tommy Smith

DALLAS  The SMU Mustangs defeated the Houston Cougars 68-64 Wednesday in front of another sold out Moody Coliseum crowd. Coming back from a disappointing loss at Temple Sunday, the Mustangs (21-6, 10-4) responded, improving to 14-0 at home this season. SMU point guard Nic Moore scored a game high 16 points, adding 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.

Ryan Manuel, Ben Moore, Keith Frazier and Cannen Cunningham were part of a SMU bench that scored 31 points in the win. “Our bench was great,” said head coach Larry Brown. “That was a big thing having our bench come through like it did.”

SMU trailed early, as guard Danuel House scored Houston’s first nine points of the game. The Cougars (12-14, 4-9) led 14-6 after the first 6:25. Forward TaShawn Thomas put up 15 points and 8 rebounds, while guard Jherrod Stiggers came off the bench to score 16 points in 24 minutes.

Two Nic Moore free throws with 26 seconds left in the half gave SMU a 32-30 lead at the  break. Houston tied the game twice in the second half but the Mustangs took the lead for good 40-39 with 13:51 left in the game.

The Mustangs won with balance and defense. Nine Mustangs played double-digit minutes and scored at least four points, while recording at least three rebounds. The Mustangs held Houston to 39.3% shooting for the game, improving to 18-2 this season when holding their opponents to under 40% field goal percentage. SMU out-rebounded the Cougars 41-29 on the night. The Mustangs have now out-rebounded 22 of their 27 opponents this season.

“That was something that was a big key for us going into the game, it always is,” said Cougars’ Head coach James Dickey. “We’ve got to do a better job boxing out, we’ve got to do a better job being physical and we’ve got to do a better job team rebounding.”

SMU center Cannen Cunningham was again called upon early to fill in for Markus Kennedy who picked up two early fouls forcing him to the bench. Cunningham finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 17 minutes. Forward Ben Moore added 8 points and 6 rebounds in 17 minutes. Keith Frazier finished with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 21 minutes off the Mustangs’ bench.

“The thing Keith does best is make outside shots but he did all the other things,” said Brown. “I’ve been telling him all along, I don’t want him to define his game by making an outside shot and he did a lot of great things tonight.”

SMU led by nine points 68-59 with left 19 seconds left to play. Houston scored five points in the final 11 seconds to cut the winning margin to four when Stiggers hit his fourth three pointer of the night as time expired.

Houston will return home to host UCF Saturday, while SMU travels to Connecticut for a Sunday showdown with UConn. Three of the Mustangs last four opponents are currently ranked in the top 25. The Mustangs will play UCF March 1st in front of another sold out Moody Coliseum crowd. The last home game for SMU is against Louisville March 5.

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