The SMU Mustangs rebounded from their first loss of the season on Saturday night at Moody Coliseum, beating the Memphis Tigers 80-68.
Many wondered how SMU would respond after losing its shot at perfection. The players said all the right things leading up to the game and played like they had already forgotten, a tribute to Larry Brown and his seniors.
Defensive intensity and good ball movement characterized the first half for the Mustangs. Memphis, a team that struggles offensively and relies heavily on free throws, started the game 3-19 from the field. That was due, in large part, to SMU’s discipline and aggressiveness but poor shooting was a factor. The Tigers did not make it to the free throw line until under 10 minutes remained in the half, going 5-7. That was due, in large part, to SMU’s discipline and aggressiveness but poor shooting was also a factor.
The Mustangs were led by Nic Moore, Ben Moore, and Sterling Brown who had 9, 10, and 9 points respectively. Nic Moore remained in the starting lineup despite injury concerns and SMU took a 39-27 lead into the half.
SMU continued its dominance in the second half, building on its lead. Nic Moore went on an impressive run early on, nailing three threes and converting a three point play. He finished with 22 points to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Ben Moore, Sterling Brown, and Shake Milton were also in double figures for the Mustangs.
Though the Tigers got to the line more often in the second half, they continued to shoot poorly from the field, finishing 22-67 (32.8%). They were out-rebounded 51 to 35 and found themselves on the wrong end of 10 SMU blocks. Two of their offensive leaders, Shaq Goodwin and Ricky Tarrant Jr., fouled out, playing a large portion of the game with foul trouble.
SMU Head Coach Larry Brown was critical of his team, saying, “I don’t think we played with a lot of discipline in the second half so I’m not a happy camper.” He continued, “The first half, we made them shoot jumpers. The second half, they beat us off the dribble, got the ball in the post, and got out in transition.” He explained his reasoning, saying, “we have one goal… to win a conference championship. I don’t think this [performance] was indicative of that.”
With the win, SMU improved to 19-1 on the season. Memphis fell to 13-8 and will play UConn on Feb. 4. The Mustangs will play Houston on the road on Feb. 1.