Mustangs Host No. 17/15 Connecticut In Front Of SELLOUT Crowd
Special to Rattle and Hum Sports
DALLAS, TX SMU plays its first game in the renovated Moody Coliseum on Saturday, hosting No. 17/15 Connecticut in front of a sellout (7,000) crowd for an ESPNU-televised contest at 1 p.m. The Mustangs (10-3, 0-1 American) and Connecticut (11-2, 0-1) meet in SMU’s first home American Athletic Conference game. This game has been sold out since Dec. 19, and is the first sellout for SMU since Nov. 20, 2001 vs. Texas Tech.
The renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum provides many new and improved features, including a renovated main entry lobby, expanded concourses with raised ceilings, club seats, loge boxes, private suites, videoboards, scoreboards, group suites, new event space, offices, team locker rooms and meeting space. The men’s basketball game is the first of a doubleheader as the Mustangs return to Moody Coliseum. The women’s basketball team hosts USF at 3:30 p.m.
On defense, SMU is holding opponents to 35.7 percent from the field (1st American, 2nd NCAA) and 61.4 points per game (2nd AAC, 17th NCAA). SMU has held 17 of its last 22 (11 of 13 this year) opponents under 40% shooting. SMU is also leading the league in rebound margin (+9.0, 13th NCAA), outrebounding 12 of 13 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 50.4 percent (1st American, 7th NCAA) and 41.3 percent from 3-point range (2nd American, 21st NCAA) while averaging 15.8 assists (2nd AAC, 29th NCAA). The team is averaging 73.5 points per game with six Mustangs averaging at least 6.0 points. Nic Moore (13.4) and Markus Kennedy (10.4) are averaging double figures. Individually, Nic Moore is 2nd in the American and 5th nationally in 3-point percentage (.533, 32-60). Additionally, the Mustangs have outscored all 13 opponents in the paint by an average of 35.8-18.9.
On Dec. 23, Markus Kennedy was named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll after averaging 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in wins against UTPA and at Wyoming. Nic Moore has been named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll three times this season (Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Dec. 9) while junior center Yanick Moreira has been listed once (Nov. 25). Freshman Ben 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 a vote in the AP Poll on Dec. 23. It was the first time SMU had received a vote since Dec. 23, 2003.
LAST GAME (L, 65-57 at Cincinnati on Jan. 1): CINCINNATI (AP) — Justin Jackson scored 17 points as the Cincinnati Bearcats pulled away for a 65-57 win over SMU on Wednesday night in the first game for both teams in the new American Athletic Conference. Sean Kilpatrick overcame a second straight poor shooting night to finish with 13 points and Jermaine Sanders and Shaquille Thomas each added 10 as the Bearcats (12-2) extended their winning streak to five games. Markus Kennedy was the only Mustang to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points as SMU (10-3) was held to its second-lowest point total of the season. The Mustangs saw their winning streak snapped at five games. Sanders connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to help Cincinnati take a 32-30 halftime lead. Kennedy scored six of the last eight points of a 16-3 SMU run that left the Mustangs leading, 22-14, with 6:34 left in the first half. The Bearcats countered with a 12-0 run capped by four straight points by Jackson, whose five blocked shots before halftime matched his season high for a game. The Bearcats never trailed after Jackson converted a three-point play for a 24-22 lead with 3:24 left before halftime. SMU outrebounded Cincinnati 32-30, winning the rebounding margin for the 12th time in 13 games. The Mustangs have outrebounded its opponents 70-36 in the second half of the last three games.
UP NEXT: The Mustangs visit No. 14/10 Louisville on Sunday, Jan. 12, for a CBS Sports Network televised matchup at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT. SMU’s next home game is Wed., Jan. 15, vs. USF at 6 p.m.
THE SERIES VS. UCONN (1-0): SMU’s second American Athletic Conference clash will also be the second meeting between the Mustangs and the Huskies. The Mustangs won the Dec. 30, 1965 home contest by a count of 80-66.
FAMILIAR FOES: Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie played 91 games over the course of two seasons for Larry Brown’s Philadelphia 76ers from 1999-01. Ollie, who was also born in Dallas, is also in his second in his current head coaching role.
HALL OF FAME HEAD COACH Larry Brown…was named head men’s basketball coach at SMU on April 19, 2012. He is the only head coach to win both an NCAA title (Kansas 1988) and an NBA Championship (Detroit 2004). Brown was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach on Sept. 27, 2002. He is in his 39th season as a head coach and 9th at the NCAA level. He has an overall record of 1678-1212 when combining his head coaching marks from the NBA, the ABA, the NCAA and USA Basketball. His collegiate record is 202-81 (25-20 at SMU), making the NCAA tournament in his first seven seasons including three Final Fours (1980, 1986, 1988) and the 1988 NCAA title.