SMU takes on the Cincinnati Bearcats for the second time this season, Thursday at 8 p.m. in Moody Coliseum. SMU fell to Cinci in November and the Mustangs haven’t looked back since winning eight consecutive games and 16 of the last 17.
The Mustangs are 9-1 in the American Athletic Conference with their only loss being 50-56 against the Bearcats. A win against Cincinnati will push SMU one step closer to the top spot in the AAC currently held by Tulsa.
Last game against UCF, Ryan Manuel, Markus Kennedy, and Yanick Moreira had big performances each with over 10 points. Nic Moore also tied his single game assist record with 10 against the Knights. Kennedy was named AAC Player of the Week because he averaged 17.5 points and nine rebounds in SMU’s two victories against USF and UCF. SMU’s performance against UCF earned the Mustangs a spot back in the AP and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls, coming in at number 23.
To beat Cincinnati the second time around, the Mustangs will need to keep focused on their defense and be sure to start the offense off hot early. The team has a tendency to take a few minutes to wake up and it’s not something SMU can afford to do. Luckily, the Moody crowd should elevate the competitive atmosphere from the get go.
Nic Moore needs to have a big game from behind the arc and continue to be careful with the ball, not giving up too many turnovers. Markus Kennedy is finally back into high-speed game shape and his recent performances have proven that, so he should be able to propel the Mustangs to another home win.
After playing UCF, SMU will travel to play the AAC top ranked Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday at 7 p.m. in hopes of reclaiming the number one spot.