Less than a month after defeating the University of Texas El Paso and Tulane University, SMU will challenge both teams again, only this time, on the road.
The first match of the weekend against UTEP on Friday, Feb. 5 is also the third out of a four game road trip for the Mustangs. The UTEP Miners are currently ranked fourth in Conference USA and have a C-USA record of 1-6; SMU was one of those losses when UTEP traveled to Dallas in January.
The final score of that game was 72-61, in favor of the Mustangs. SMU has a C-USA record of 5-2, which puts them in a four-way tie for second place with Tulane, Memphis and Marshall. The only team officially ahead of SMU is East Carolina, who the Mustangs beat a little over two weeks ago.
With such a close grasp at the No. 1 spot, head coach Rhonda Rompola hopes the team does not have a repeat of their last two weekend games.
“We split last weekend and really played poorly at Rice,” she said.
According to Rompola, UTEP’s a team that knows how to shoot the basketball. But, she also stated that SMU’s is well equipped to defend the shooters, despite their lack of home court advantage
Following Friday’s game, the Mustangs will head to New Orleans to tip off against Tulane University on Feb. 7.
The Mustangs beat the Green Wave over winter break on Jan. 17 (70-59). With a heated run for the No. 1 spot, Tulane will be looking to return the favor. SMU, however, is ready to take them on.
“When we played Tulane last time, they pressured the heck out of us and that really hurt us,” Rompola said. “That is something we’ve been working on ever since that game.”
Spending so much time away from Dallas, the team is doing what they can to stay sharp and focused. They will return to Moody Coliseum for a rematch against Rice on Feb. 12.
Until then, the team is living by the philosophy provided by Rompola: “As we always say, you have to protect your home court and steal some on the road.”