Larry Brown

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Leave a comment

With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

No. 24 SMU beats UConn 80-54 on senior night for Nic Moore

SMU seniors guard Nic Moore (11),  Markus Kennedy (5) and Jordan Tolbert watch the final seconds of an NCAA college basketball game against Connecticut on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Dallas. SMU won 80-54. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) Sterling Brown scored 20 points and No. 24 SMU beat Connecticut 80-54 on Thursday night in the final home game for seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy, the only players with coach Larry Brown for all four of his seasons during an incredible turnaround for the Mustangs.

Moore had 16 points and four assists in his 99th career game for the Mustangs, while Kennedy had only four points but a career-high nine assists. Jordan Tolbert, another senior in his final SMU home game, had 14 points and seven rebounds.

SMU (25-4, 13-4 American Athletic Conference) remained tied with Temple for the conference lead. The Owls, who on Jan. 24 handed the Mustangs their first loss after an 18-0 start, beat Memphis earlier Thursday.

Sterling Gibbs had 20 points for UConn (20-10, 10-7), while Daniel Hamilton had 12.

While the Mustangs can still win or share their second consecutive AAC regular-season title, they are ineligible for any postseason play because of NCAA sanctions handed down in September.

Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 8:13 left in the first half tied the game at 16-all, but UConn had only one more field goal while SMU finished the half with a 22-4 run.

Kennedy made a tiebreaking tip-in with 7:46 left before Sterling Brown hit a 3-pointer and eventually a layup that made it 26-16. Moore also had a layup high off the glass in that spurt of 10 consecutive points for SMU in just over 3 1/2 minutes.

Hamilton ended the Huskies’ scoring drought when he made two free throws with 4 minutes left, but SMU then had a 10-2 run capped by Moore’s three-point play in the closing seconds. Moore made an off-balance shot when stumbling forward after being fouled, and added the free throw.

There was an appropriate stretch early in the game when Moore had assists on consecutive baskets. First came a nifty pass to Kennedy for a two-handed slam, and then one to Tolbert for another score.

Tolbert sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech. The only other senior player recognized was David Nelson, a former practice player who was put on the roster the second half of this season and appeared briefly in only four games, including a layup in the final minute Thursday.

Moore and Kennedy both had to sit out 2012-13, Brown’s first season, after transferring to SMU. Moore came from Illinois State with his head coach Tim Jankovich, who is Brown’s top assistant, and Kennedy arrived from Villanova.

SMU hadn’t been ranked in 29 years before breaking into the Top 25 in February 2014, late in Moore and Kennedy’s first season. While left out of the NCAA Tournament that season, the Mustangs made it to the NIT championship game.

The Mustangs won the AAC title last season, with Moore the league’s player of the year, and then advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993. Their season ended in a loss to UCLA after a questionable goaltending call in their tournament opener.

If not for NCAA sanctions handed down in September, the Mustangs would be a sure bet to be in the NCAA Tournament field again this season. Instead, their season will be done after Sunday’s regular-season finale at Cincinnati.

PRESIDENTIAL GREETINGS

Just before tip, Moore went to the sideline seats near midcourt to greet two presidents – former U.S. President George W. Bush and R. Gerald Turner, SMU’s president. The rest of the Mustangs starters followed him with some handshakes and hugs.

TIP-INS

UConn: The Huskies lost for the third time in their last four games. … UConn beat SMU 68-62 at home earlier this season, but is 0-4 in the series when the games are in Dallas.

SMU: The Mustangs shot 52 percent (32 of 62) from the field. … SMU had a 42-12 scoring advantage in the paint, and 11-1 on second-chance points.

UP NEXT

UConn hosts UCF on Sunday.

SMU is at Cincinnati on Sunday.

Brown scores 14 to help No. 24 SMU beat Memphis 69-62

SMU guard Sterling Brown (3) drives against Memphis guard Avery Woodson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dil
Leave a comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Sterling Brown scored 14 points to help No. 24 SMU shake off pesky Memphis in a 69-62 victory Thursday night.

SMU leading scorer Nic Moore was held without a point in the first half, but his floater with less than a minute to play gave the Mustangs (23-4, 11-4 American Athletic Conference) a 65-62 lead. Moore finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

Memphis led 57-56 until Shake Milton hit a 3-pointer and Brown a pair of free throws for a four-point SMU advantage.

Jeremiah Martin missed a corner shot that would have given Memphis a lead with less than a minute to go before Moore hit his floater. With his team up 65-62, Moore stole the ball and Brown drew an intentional foul and made two from the line.

Marcus Kennedy had 12 points and eight rebounds for SMU.

Dedric Lawson scored 18 for Memphis (15-13, 6-9), and Ricky Tarrant Jr. added 15 points and seven assists.

Memphis has taken some very disappointing losses lately, including to AAC cellar dwellers East Carolina and Tulane, and Saturday at South Florida.

This one was more respectable.

Memphis led 57-56 on Trashon Burrell’s bank shot with less than 7 minutes left before Milton hit his go-ahead 3.

Moore, who was averaging 16.8 points per game, made his first shot with 12:09 left. It was SUM’s second 3-pointer of the game and it tied the score at 47.

The Mustangs led 31-30 at halftime.

TIP-INS

Memphis: The school needed to average 6,812 fans over the last two home games of the season to receive between $420,000 and $480,000 from the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, who also play at the FedExForum. That is a prorated amount of the $800,000 the Tigers would get if they averaged 10,000 fans per game.

SMU: Junior guard Jonathan Wilfong drew his first start of the season in his hometown. Wilfong has appeared in 14 games. He played the first 4 minutes and did not attempt a shot.

UP NEXT

SMU hosts Tulane on Sunday.

Memphis hosts Tulsa on Sunday.

Nic Moore has 22 points for No. 21 SMU in 74-63 win over ECU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) is congratulated by fans after an NCAA college basketball game against East Carolina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Dallas. SMU won 74-63. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) Nic Moore had 22 points, including four 3-pointers after halftime, and seven assists as No. 21 SMU beat East Carolina 74-63 on Sunday.

Markus Kennedy added 19 points while Jordan Tolbert had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Mustangs (22-4, 10-4 American), who have alternated losses and wins in their last eight games since an 18-0 start.

SMU never trailed after an 8-0 run going into the halftime, and took the lead for good when Moore hit consecutive 3s in a 27-second span after that.

Prince Williams had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting for East Carolina (10-17, 2-12), the AAC last-place team which lost its sixth consecutive game. Kentrell Barkley added 15 points and Caleb White had 14.

East Carolina was even at 38-all on Michael Zangari’s short floater with 17:19 left. That was the sixth and final tie of the game.

Moore made a 3-pointer from the top of the key only 9 seconds after that, then after a Pirates miss hit another 3 from nearly the same spot. When White hit a 3 for ECU, Moore responded with another 3 – this one from the right wing when he started the ball movement that led to him being left wide open.

While coach Larry Brown’s Mustangs are banned because of NCAA sanctions from postseason play, and can’t play in the American Athletic Conference tournament, they are still in contention to win the league’s regular-season title for the second year in a row.

Temple, the first team to beat SMU this season, went into its game Sunday night at Houston at 10-3 in the league. Cincinnati was 10-5 in the AAC after its win Saturday over UConn, which beat the Mustangs on Thursday night.

East Carolina had a 35-28 lead when Barkley made a 3-pointer with 4:27 left in the first half, which came after Moore’s attempted alley-oop pass was stolen by Zangari and started the break the other way.

The Pirates missed their last field goal attempts and two free throws the rest of the half.

Tolbert started SMU’s half-ending 8-0 run for the lead after a pass from Markus Kennedy whose second basket in the spurt was a layup with 1:44 left in the half for a 36-35 lead. Moore made a jumper between the Kennedy baskets.

TIP-INS

East Carolina: The Pirates made 12 of 24 3-pointers. … East Carolina’s last win was 64-61 over Temple on Jan. 27, three days after the Owls handed SMU its first loss of the season. … Like SMU’s Larry Brown, East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo played collegiately at North Carolina for Dean Smith. Lebo also played for Brown with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs during the 1989-90 season.

SMU: Tolbert has his sixth double-double this season, matching the number he had over 91 games at Texas Tech (2011-14) before transferring to SMU for his senior season. … The Mustangs are 14-1 this season at home, and 76-21 overall since the start of the 2013-14 season.

UP NEXT

East Carolina at Tulane on Wednesday night.

SMU at Memphis on Thursday night.

Milton, Moore help No. 12 SMU rout South Florida 92-58

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (1) defends as SMU guard Nic Moore (11) leaps to the basket for a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Dallas. SMU won 80-68.  (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Shake Milton scored 22 points and Nic Moore added 17 as No. 12 SMU rebounded from its second loss of the season with a 92-58 rout of struggling South Florida on Sunday.

The Mustangs (20-2, 9-2 American Athletic Conference) shrugged off a three-point road loss to Houston by matching their season high with 14 3-pointers and shooting 60 percent overall. They never trailed, scoring the game’s first 11 points. SMU hit its last six shots before halftime and then opened the second half with an 8-0 run to build their lead to 30 points.

Jahmal McMurray led South Florida (5-20, 2-10) with 18 points.

SMU, which had lost two straight on the road, has matched the best 22-game start in school history. The Mustangs won 26 of their first 28 games before finishing 26-4 in 1955-56.

The conference leaders have topped 20 wins in three of four seasons under Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who was suspended for the first nine games of the season and will not be able to take the Mustangs to this year’s NCAA tournament because of multiple rules infractions.

Milton made 8 of 12 shots, including 6 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. Five of Moore’s six field goals were 3-pointers, and the senior guard finished with eight assists.

Jordan Tolbert made all five of his shots on the way 15 points and Markus Kennedy came off the bench to contribute 10 points and grab a team-high nine rebounds for SMU.

South Florida clinched its second 20-loss season in three years under coach Orlando Antigua. Jaleel Cousins scored 13 points and Angel Nunez had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who trailed by as many as 36 points in the second half.

TIP-INS

SMU: The Mustangs improved to 2-2 following a school-best 18-0 start, stopping a two-game road skid included a nine-point setback at Temple and the three-point loss at Houston. SMU has won 27 games each of the past two seasons and its 74 wins since the start of 2013-14 are the most during a three-season span in program history.

South Florida: The Bulls haven’t beaten a ranked team since Feb. 19, 2012, when they upset No. 19 Louisville 58-51 on the road. They haven’t defeated a Top 25 opponent in the Sun Dome since a two-point win over No. 23 Seton Hall on Jan. 13, 2012. USF is 0-3 vs. ranked opponents this season, with two of the three losses to SMU. The Bulls lost to then-No. 1 Kentucky on Nov. 27.

UP NEXT

SMU hosts Tulsa on Wednesday.

South Florida is at Temple on Feb. 14.

No. 13 SMU rebounds from 1st loss by beating Memphis 80-68

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (1) defends as SMU guard Nic Moore (11) leaps to the basket for a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Dallas. SMU won 80-68.  (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) Nic Moore scored 22 points and No. 13 SMU rebounded from its first loss of the season with an 80-68 victory over Memphis on Saturday night.

Freshman guard Shake Milton added 15 points for the Mustangs (19-1, 8-1 AAC), who led for all but 38 seconds back home in Moody Coliseum. They had their first double-digit lead only 8 minutes into the game.

While the Mustangs can win their second consecutive American Athletic Conference regular-season title, that is as far as they can go because of NCAA penalties that include a postseason ban this season. With 10 games left, they are still within reach of breaking the school record of 28 victories.

SMU was the last Division I team to lose this season, falling 89-80 to Temple in a snow-delayed game last Sunday. That ended an 18-game winning streak that was its longest since 20 in a row during the school’s only Final Four season 60 years ago.

While Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown never got caught up in talk about going undefeated, some of his players had openly discussed the goal of winning every game they played. The last team to finish undefeated was Indiana in 1976.

Now the Mustangs are trying to win 29 out of 30 before their season ends on the first Sunday in March, a week before the NCAA Tournament field is revealed.

Ben Moore and Sterling Brown each had 12 points for SMU. Jordan Tolbert grabbed 14 rebounds, and Markus Kennedy had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Shaq Goodwin scored 18 points to lead Memphis (13-8, 4-4), four nights after his career-high 35 points marked the highest-scoring game in the conference this season.

Jeremiah Martin had 11 points, and Ricky Tarrant Jr. and Avery Woodson each scored 10 for Memphis. Dedric Lawson had 13 rebounds.

After building a 39-27 halftime lead, SMU got its first points in the second half on a 3-pointer by Tolbert off an inbounds pass to beat the shot clock. It was only the second 3 this season for the 6-foot-7 Tolbert.

Consecutive 3s by Nic Moore made it 53-32, and the Mustangs had their largest lead after Milton’s alley-oop pass to Tolbert for a dunk with 11:31 left made it 64-39.

Memphis led only after Goodwin’s jumper made it 2-1 with 18:33 to go in the first half. SMU went ahead after two free throws by Sterling Brown with 17:55 left, followed by Nic Moore driving the length of the court and the senior point guard making a few nifty moves before hitting a layup.

A 3-pointer by Tarrant had the Tigers within 10-8 only 6 minutes into the game, but Tolbert made a layup on the ensuing possession to start a 9-0 run for SMU.

TIP-INS

Memphis: The Tigers have lost three of four, their worst stretch of the season. … Memphis leads the series 12-7 despite losing the last three games. … Goodwin and Tarrant fouled out.

SMU: The Mustangs are 12-0 at home this season, and 46-3 since the start of the 2013-14 season. … The 14 rebounds by Tolbert were the most he’s had in a conference game, in his first three seasons with Texas Tech in the Big 12 or his senior year at SMU.

UP NEXT

Memphis hosts Connecticut on Thursday night.

SMU plays at Houston on Monday night.