In his first season at the helm at SMU, Larry Brown led the Mustangs to a 15-win season despite the fact that two talented transfers in point guard Nic Moore and power forward Markus Kennedy were unable to play in games. Now that those two are available SMU’s become a better basketball team, and on Sunday both played pivotal roles in the Mustangs’ 75-68 win at Houston.
Moore scored a game-high 28 points (22 in the second half) to go along with three assists and three steals and Kennedy added 15 points and ten rebounds as SMU earned its 16th win of the season, surpassing their total of a season ago. The difference against Houston was simple: after turning the ball over nine times and playing a less than stellar brand of basketball in the first half SMU didn’t turn the ball over at all in the second half.
Taking better care of the basketball and making wise decisions resulted in the Mustangs shooting 61.5% from the field in the second half, and they also scored ten points off of Houston turnovers in the second half (16-5 edge for the game). With the win SMU is now 5-2 in American Athletic Conference play and 16-4 overall, with the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 1993 a realistic possibility.
Even with some having the belief that the Mustangs could be a dangerous team within the American, the general assumption was that the program wouldn’t take off until Emmanuel Mudiay arrives on campus next season. But with a more than capable floor general in Nic Moore calling the shots, that time may be now.
Winners of five straight games with a trip to USF up next, a lot more will be learned about this SMU squad when they host Memphis on February 1. And if players such as Moore, Kennedy and Nick Russell continue to play as they have, the Mustangs are certainly capable of winning that one.