SMU remains undefeated at home

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Students and fans rushed the court at Moody Coliseum after the Mustangs beat the Cincinnati Bearcats, their first on-campus win over a top 10 opponent since 1967. The men’s basketball team has yet to be defeated at home this season.Photo credit: Ryan Miller

Moody Madness or Moody Magic. Either way, SMU has made Moody Coliseum one of the toughest places in college basketball to play and with SMU’s third win over a Top 25 team this season at home, the men’s basketball team is thinking about a NCAA tournament bid.

 

The Mustangs didn’t just beat the No. 7 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday, the team dominated them 76-55 in front of the fifth sellout crowd of the season at Moody.

“If we didn’t have a good team, all we’d have is a beautiful building,” SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said. “I didn’t imagine it would be like this quickly. But I was hopeful that we could get it that people wanted to see our team play and appreciate the fact that we’re playing hard and playing the right way.”

When the Bearcats pulled within seven midway through the second half, two Nick Russell steals and a Nic Moore 3-pointer highlighted an 11-0 run that put the game out of reach for Cincinnati.

Russell finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three steals in a great team victory, but it was his two key steals that preserved the win when it was gutcheck time for SMU.

“When Nick got a steal and they didn’t even try to run back with him, I figured it was over,” Cannen Cunningham said.

In one of the best team wins of the year, it was Cunningham stepping up with forward Markus Kennedy in foul trouble that was one of the reasons SMU went into halftime with a 38-24 advantage.

Cunningham had all 11 of his points in the first half and also added three rebounds and two steals on the game. Moore had 14 points and first-year Ben Moore continued his impressive play, added 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks off the bench as well.

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Russell’s big game was also highlighted by his impressive defense. Russell forced star Bearcats guard Sean Kilpatrick to shoot just five of 18 from the floor and even though he still scored 22 points, Kilpatrick and the rest of the Bearcats took contested shots all night, shooting just 35 percent as a team from the field.

Cincinnati’s press defense did cause some trouble for SMU though, forcing 16 turnovers by the Mustangs, but SMU forced 19 turnovers by Cincinnati as well, taking advantage by scoring 24 points off of turnovers.

Moody Madness is in full force and Coach Brown and the players credited the crowd for doing their part in the win, but Brown said he knows the program needs to continue to improve to where the team and fans expect to win games like this.

“I’m so happy that we had that opportunity (to storm the court),” Brown said. “If we ever get the program the way we like, we’ll get used to winning games like this.”

“It was crazy,” Cunningham said. “Everybody’s my best friend now.”

SMU is now 13-0 at home on the year and 6-0 in Moody, and this win might just propel SMU into the Top 25, something not many people expected out of a team that won just 15 games a year ago.

“At the beginning of the year, we knew that we believed in each other, but not a lot of people did,” Russell said. “I’m sure nobody expected us to be here. We knew what we had: We’ve got a great coach, a great coaching staff — the sky’s

the limit.”

The 19-5 Mustangs have a few days off before heading to Rutgers Thursday for their second matchup of the year. SMU beat Rutgers 70-56 at Moody Jan. 21.

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