By Don Phillips
SMU Mustangs at HOUSTON Cougars
Mon. Feb. 1 – 7pm CT
Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479)
TV: CBSSN (Carter Blackburn, Pete Gillen, Lauren Gardner)
SMU Radio: KAAM 770 AM
SMU and Houston meet for the 78th time, Houston leading the series 47-30. The Mustangs have won five straight regular season meetings over the Cougars, including a 77-73 win this season on Jan. 19 in Moody Coliseum. The teams spent 21 years together in the Southwest Conference (1975-1996) and eight as C-USA opponents (2005-2013) before moving to The American.
Houston held a 28-14 advantage in the SWC and a 12-3 margin in C-USA games. SMU does hold an all-time 6-5 edge in tournament play: 2-1 in NCAA Tournament, 4-3 in SWC Tournament, 0-1 in the C-USA Tournament and 0-1 in The American Tournament. The two met in the last SWC Tournament at Reunion Arena in Dallas with SMU notching a 62-57 win over the Cougars in 1996. The Ponies won NCAA Regional matchups in 1956 and 1965, but lost in 1967. The eighth-ranked Mustangs won 89-76 over 17th-ranked Houston in the 1956 NCAA Tournament. SMU eventually advanced to the 1956 Final Four.
SMU is leading The American at 80.0 points per game (42nd NCAA) while shooting 51.1 percent overall (1st AAC, 4th NCAA) and 40.6 percent from three (1st AAC, 11th NCAA). SMU has five of the top 13 in the AAC in field goal percentage: Sterling Brown (.683, 2nd), Jordan Tolbert (.577, 6th), Ben Moore (.571, 8th), Markus Kennedy (.536, 10th), and Shake Milton (.477, 13th). The Mustangs have had at least four double-digit scorers in 16 of 19 games (7 of 8 AAC games). The offense is averaging 17.9 assists (1st AAC, 10th NCAA) and has a 1.47 assist-to-turnover ratio (1st AAC, 27th NCAA). Senior Nic Moore leads SMU in scoring (15.3, 5th AAC) and assists (5.1, 1st AAC) with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (4th AAC).
The Mustangs have outrebounded 15 of 19 opponents and leads the AAC with a +11.4 rebound margin (4th NCAA). SMU has been at least +10 in 11 games. Jordan Tolbert leads SMU at 9.2 rebounds (1st AAC, 47th NCAA) with Ben Moore next at 7.3 (9th AC) and Markus Kennedy at 5.6 (18th AAC). SMU’s 13.7 offensive rebounds per game ranks second in the AAC (25th NCAA), led by Jordan Tolbert at 4.11 offensive boards per game (1st AAC, 8th NCAA). SMU also leads The American in offensive rebound percentage (.433) and is second in defensive rebound percentage (.709).
SMU is holding opponents to 39.7% from the floor (4th AAC, 37th NCAA). SMU is 60-7 under Larry Brown/Tim Jankovich when holding opponents at or below 40% shooting. In 2014-15, SMU held opponents to 38.1% from the field (1st AAC, 5th NCAA). The Mustangs held 20 of 34 opponents at or below 40%, going 19-1 in those contests. Under Brown/Jankovich, SMU has held 67 of 122 (7 of 18 in 2015-16, 20 of 34 in 2014-15, 24 of 37 in 2013-14, 16 of 32 in 2012-13) opponents at or below 40%.
America’s Bookie has SMU a 5½-point road favorite with the total at 143. Check into A1 Service Plays for another opinion for this one and the rest of the daily sporting action.