SMU cooks Rice with strong defensive stand
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 20:02
The SMU Mustangs men’s basketball team (13-12 overall, 3-7 in Conference USA) took a step in the right direction last Saturday with a defensive drubbing of Conference and in-state rival Rice (5-18 overall, 1-8 in Conference USA) by a score of 61-39.
SMU was able to showcase one of its best defensive performances of the season, holding the Owls to a season-low 39 points on just 10-of-51 shots for an ice-cold 19 percent shooting mark for the entire contest.
Conversely, the Mustangs scored on nearly every other possession with a shooting percentage of 49, including 6-of-12 made 3-pointers.
With a 26-17 lead at the halfway mark, SMU didn’t allow Rice to mount any type of pressure in the second half, growing its modest lead of nine to as much as 24 midway through the second half in route to the 22-point victory.
The victory, which marks the first win in February after two losses to Houston and Memphis, brings the Mustangs one game above .500 with a humble record of 13-12 in head coach Larry Brown’s inaugural year with the Mustangs.
SMU sophomore and Houston native Ryan Manuel came up big for the Mustangs, scoring on 6-of-9 shooting for a total of 16 points while adding four rebounds and two assists.
Rebounding was also decidedly in favor of SMU, who out-rebounded Rice 40-30 with help from sophomore center Cannen Cunningham’s 13 rebounds.
Cunningham was a force to be reckoned with the entire game, blocking six shots and tallying six points to round out his 37 well-played minutes.
Along with Manuel and Cunningham were the continual scoring threats of Jalen Jones and Nick Russell, who scored 15 and 12 respectively. Jones and Russell are also the team’s scoring leaders and have emerged as serious threats to go off on any given night.
Uncharacteristically, the Mustangs outscored their opponents in both the first and second halves. In recent games against similarly-skilled opponents, the Mustangs would have jumped out in front, but due to lack of depth on the bench, they fell behind in the second half.
The Mustangs will wade through the debris that is post Mardi-Gras New Orleans to play Tulane on February 16. The Green Wave will be coming off a Wednesday night game, but still boast one of the better overall records in Conference USA at 16-8. Hopefully, SMU will be able to carry over its defensive dominance over into the Saturday night tilt.