GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Ben Moore scored 17 points and No. 10 SMU remained unbeaten by routing East Carolina 79-55 on Wednesday night.
Markus Kennedy had 11 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Tolbert finished with 15 points and Nic Moore had a career-high 12 assists for the Mustangs (16-0, 5-0 American Athletic Conference), who had five double-figure scorers for the fourth time this season.
Playing their first game as a top-10 team in 31 years, they never trailed and shot 52.5 percent while extending the best start and second-longest winning streak in school history.
Caleb White and B.J. Tyson scored 15 points apiece to lead the Pirates (8-9, 0-4), who shot 33 percent in the second half and lost their fourth straight to remain one of two teams winless in AAC play.
Shake Milton scored 13 points and Sterling Brown had 11 for SMU, which put this one away by opening the second half with a 17-4 run. The Mustangs held East Carolina scoreless for five minutes and pushed their lead into the 20s on a 3-pointer by Milton that made it 58-36 with just over 13 minutes left. The Pirates never got closer than 17 the rest of the way.
SMU moved into the top 10 earlier this week for the first time since 1984-85, when the Mustangs climbed to No. 2 with future NBA center Jon Koncak patrolling the paint in Dallas. Unlike that team, this group won’t play in the postseason due to NCAA sanctions, meaning the finish line comes March 6 at Cincinnati.
So while these Mustangs won’t win a national championship, they kept themselves on track to win all their games.
They’ve been getting it done on the boards all season, and this was no exception. They rank third in Division I with a rebounding margin of plus-12.6, and they finished this one with a 42-22 advantage on the boards.
SMU led 21-6 before the Pirates grabbed their first rebound, and allowed East Carolina just five offensive boards while rebounding 27 of ECU’s misses.
SMU: The Mustangs once again played with just seven scholarship players. Guard Keith Frazier, who averages 11.9 points, missed his fourth straight game and has been away from the team for personal reasons.
East Carolina: The Pirates were denied their first victory over a nationally ranked opponent since they knocked off Dwyane Wade and No. 13 Marquette in 2002. They fell to 1-5 when hosting a top-10 opponent.
SMU is at Tulane on Sunday.
East Carolina is at Central Florida on Saturday.
AP college basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org
(This version corrects SMU’s ranking in 1985 to No. 2.)