Red Hot men's basketball looks for fourth straight victory against East Carolina
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Coming off their first set back-to-back road wins in Conference USA play since the 2002-2003 season, the SMU men's basketball team returns to Moody Coliseum on Wednesday in hopes of extending their win streak to four against the East Carolina Pirates (12-9, 4-3 C-USA).
SMU's current streak matches the team's best performance since the Mustangs joined C-USA in 2005-2006.
"We've been practicing hard and preparing for each team individually," SMU guard Aliaksei Patsevich said. " Our last wins gave our team a mental raise and more confidence in ourselves, our defense, our offence and in each other."
After getting off to a 1-3 start in conference play, SMU (13-8, 4-3 C-USA) has rebounded back to become the No. 5 team in the league, having not lost a game since Jan. 19.
On the season, the Mustangs are 10-4 on their home court and 12-2 when shooting better than their opponent from the field.
SMU continues to be led by three-time Conference USA Player of the Week, Papa Dia, with an average of 18 points per game, putting him first in C-USA in field goals and 13th in the NCAA (48.7 percent). Dia is also first in the conference and eighth in the nation in three-point percentage (40.9 percent).
The Mustangs' other clutch player, Robert Nyakundi, will also have a large presence in Wednesday's game.
With 24 steals on the season and 16.4 average point per game, Nyakudni has been the go-to shooter for SMU in the team's last two wins.
East Carolina, also riding a winning streak, has emerged victorious in two of their last three games. SMU and the Pirates are currently tied for fifth place in C-USA and remain only one game out of first place as UAB, Memphis and UTEP all stand at 5-2. Southern Miss also stands one spot ahead of the Mustangs at 5-3 in league play.
Heading in the middle of conference play, SMU continues to post the best field goal percentage in the C-USA (48.7), while the Pirates have been shooting 44.7 percent from the field. SMU also has the highest three-point percentage (eight in the NCAA) and third-best rebounding defense.
ECU does boast a higher scoring average and fairs better on defense with an average of 70.5 points per game compared to 67.8 from SMU. The Pirates also have the advantage on the boards.
Coming to Dallas fresh off a 74-70 win over Houston, the Pirates are led by the trio of Jontae Jerrod (15.1 points per game), Darrius Morrow (12.6) and Jamar Abrams (10.5).
In last year's meeting between the Mustangs and Pirates, SMU, with the second-best scoring defense in the league last year, clinched a 59-54 road win near the end of the season
While SMU won the first three meetings between the teams dating back to the first game of the series in 1985, ECU won the next two before the Mustangs knocked off ECU last season for the first time since the 2006-0207 season.
SMU holds a 4-2 advantage in the series.