Basketball starts season strong

Photo credit: Ryan Miller

SMU Men’s Basketball opened its season with a 93-54 win over Lamar at Moody Coliseum Friday night. Starting in place of not-yet-eligible Markus Kennedy, sophomore forward Ben Moore burst onto the scene, scoring 22 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists. He also added two blocks.

“He’s been like that every day [in practice],” SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said. “He’s been playing on the perimeter, so we’d been trying to experiment if he could be an extra ball handler, but we’re shorthanded up front. But he was great. We’re going to need him”

Senior center Cannen Cunningham echoed Brown’s praise.

“We see that every day in practice [from him],” Cunningham said. “I don’t want to put any pressure on him, but you could get used to that.”

Moore’s frontcourt running mate, senior Yanick Moreira, scored 19 points and shot a perfect 9-for-9 from the field. Moreira played in only 23 games last season because of a knee injury, and he had a limited impact in some of those games because he was eased back into action. But over the summer, he played for the Angolan national team in FIBA World Cup and dominated. He entered the season entrenched in the starting lineup.

“He’s been good in practice all year. He tries. He’s so coachable,” Brown said.

SMU scored its first points of the game on a Nic Moore jump shot and never relinquished the lead. The Mustangs galloped out to an early 15-5 lead, but the Cardinals showed a little fight when they tightened it to 20-14 with about 10 minutes left in the first half. Senior forward Justin Martin’s three-pointer on the next possession sparked a 21-2 run for SMU, which took a 46-20 lead into halftime. The Mustangs led by as many 43 points in the second half.

Lamar shot just 31.4 percent from the field and was limited to 25 percent on three-pointers. Senior guard Anthony Holliday led the Cardinals in scoring with 12 points. He was their only player to score in double figures.

“We got overwhelmed,” Lamar Head Coach Tic Price said. “They’re long, athletic. If you don’t get back, they’ll blow you out of the gym.”

Despite the lopsided score, SMU made some mistakes. They sent Lamar to the free throw line 30 times. Lamar’s three-point percentage was low, but it was because of its poor shooting. A chunk of the misses came on makeable, open shots, not contested, low-upside shots. The most glaring mistake was the 20 offensive rebounds SMU surrendered to its far less talented and athletic opponent. The Mustangs grabbed only 11 offensive rebounds.

“I thought all our big guys offensively were really good,” Brown said. “I think we just need to be more concerned about rebounding the ball a little bit better.”

Still, the Mustangs’ offensive performance gives them a reason to be confident heading into their Monday night road matchup against No. 13 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs pounded Sacramento State in their opener on Friday, 104-58.

The game tips off at 10 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN2.

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