Yanick Moreira

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POSTERIZED: UConn’s Rodney Purvis dunks on SMU’s Yanick Moreira (VIDEO)

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UConn guard Rodney Purvis blew by SMU guard Nic Moore, rose up and punched one on big man Yanick Moreira during Sunday’s AAC clash.

(Vine credit: George Shepherd)

SMU’s Yanick Moreira finishes with 38 points, 15 boards against Australia

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The most impressive collegian playing at the FIBA World Cup has been Yanick Moreira, and he put together one of the best performances of the entire event on Thursday.

The rising senior big man at SMU finished with 38 points and 15 boards, 10 of which came on the offensive end of the floor, as Angola knocked off Australia, 91-83, in the final game of group play. Moreira had 34 points in the second half.

That came of the heels of a 20-point outing against Slovenia, one of the best teams in the event.

(*One thing that is worth noting here is that a loss might have been what the Aussies were playing for. Finishing second in Group D would mean they would have to play the Americans in the quarterfinals of bracket play. A third place finish in the group means the Aussies miss out of Team USA until the semis.)

This kind of performance from Moreira is a very positive sign for the Mustangs. Larry Brown’s club already has one of the better big men in the country in Markus Kennedy, the former Villanova Wildcat, and may end up with former Texas Tech big man Jordan Tolbert eligible for this season as well. Even if Tolbert is forced to sit out the 2014-2015 season, SMU may end up having the best front court in the American.

Losing Emmanuel Mudiay hurt, there is no question about that. But with Nic Moore and Keith Frazier back and Xavier transfer Justin Martin eligible this season, there is enough talent on that roster for Brown to turn them into a top 15-caliber team.

Angola falls despite Yanick Moreira’s best offensive performance of FIBA Basketball World Cup

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While some have jumped off the SMU bandwagon thanks to Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to turn pro and play in China this year, the fact of the matter is that Larry Brown has a team capable of winning its first conference title since 1972. With guard Nic Moore and forward Markus Kennedy leading the way, the Mustangs will likely still be the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference this upcoming season.

With that being the case senior center Yanick Moreira’s time with the Angolan national team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup could prove incredibly valuable should he use it as a springboard into 2014-15. And given the way Moreira’s played in Spain, Kennedy will have a more than capable front court sidekick.

Angola fell short of victory Wednesday, losing 93-87 to undefeated Slovenia, but Moreira put forth his best offensive performance of the event with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field. Moreira also grabbed five rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end of the floor. For the tournament Moreira, who averaged six points and just under four rebounds per game in 23 appearances last season, is averaging 12.8 points and 6.5 rebounds with one contest left to play.

That final game will provide Moreira and his teammates with quite the test, as Australia has multiple big men capable of making life difficult. If Angola can win that game and get some help in the form of Korea beating Mexico, they’d advance out of the group stages and into the Round of 16. But regardless of what happens Thursday, this has been a successful tournament for a player who missed a month of action in 2013-14 due to a knee injury.

And if Moreira can carry this production over into the 2014-15 season, SMU will reap the rewards as they look to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.