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Report: Memphis offers Larry Brown a consultant job

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If Larry Brown is going to join Penny Hardaway’s staff at Memphis, it reportedly won’t be as a full-time assistant.

The school has offered Brown a consultant job rather than the full-fledged gig he’d been eying with Hardaway and the Tigers, according to a report from the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Brown’s resume is as impressive as it is troubling for any school considering bringing him aboard. He’s the only coach in history to win both an NCAA and NBA championship. He’s a 1,500-game winner and a Hall of Famer. He’s also run afoul of the NCAA at every head job he’s had and abruptly resigned at SMU amid a contract dispute.

His skill set and experience would no doubt be of immense value to Hardaway, who is taking the head job at his alma mater after coaching solely at the high school and grassroots level after his All-Star NBA career. A veteran voice on the sideline and in practice would seemingly be a necessity for the rookie coach, but given Brown’s NCAA compliance track record, it’s more than fair for Memphis to be wary bringing him aboard.

Hardaway has immense respect for Brown after their one year together with the New York Knicks, but he’s putting his new employer in a bit of a bind by trying to hire him – either as an assistant or a consultant. Allowing Brown to come on as a consultant seems like a compromise given Hardaway and Brown want him as one of the three assistants while Memphis’ administration would probably be just fine with Brown not being a part of the staff altogether.

The bottom line, though, is that Hardaway will probably be a better coach with Brown advising him. The question will be if Brown is willing to accept a job description that would limit his ability to coach on the floor.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.