SMU UConn

SMU makes a statement, beats No. 17 UConn 74-65

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To get an idea of where we are in college basketball in 2014, think about this: No. 17 UConn playing at SMU is a league game, one where the Huskies taking a 74-65 loss to the Mustangs probably isn’t an upset.

Let that sink in for a minute.

UConn has won three national titles and been to four Final Fours in the last 15 years. There are players on SMU’s basketball team that weren’t alive the last time that the Mustangs: a) made the tournament, and b) beat a ranked team at home, both of which happened in 1993. And, again, it probably wasn’t even an upset.

We’ve been over what’s plaguing the Huskies, so there’s really no need to rehash that conversation.

But what about the Mustangs?

How seriously do we have to take this team?

Think about it like this: this is a team with one of the nation’s most underrated guards in Nic Moore, a front line that features a trio of high-major big men — Markus Kennedy, Yannick Moreira, Shawn Williams — and has yet to get their most talented perimeter player, McDonalds All-American freshman Keith Frazier, into a rhythm.

I don’t think this group can win the American even when you factor in the Larry Brown Effect. I’m not betting against Louisville, Memphis or Cincinnati. But I do think it is fair to say that SMU can beat any team in this league on any given night. Those road trips to Dallas are not going to be the easy wins that they were during SMU’s Conference USA tenure.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: