Arkansas’ first road foe got back to winning Saturday in the cozy confines of its renovated home.
Nic Moore had 22 points and six assists while McDonald’s All-American Keith Frazier had 17 points as No. 22 SMU ended a two-game losing streak by downing Eastern Michigan 77-68 before 6,852 fans at Moody Coliseum.
Frazier, a 6-5 sophomore shooting guard, was 7-of-8 from the field as head coach Larry Brown’s Mustangs bounced back after losses at No. 13 Gonzaga (72-56) and at Indiana (74-68) last week.
“He’s got to get better down on that end, (defense) and then we’ve got to realize when he’s in the game and he’s open, you’ve got to get him the ball,”Brown said.
“He shouldn’t be getting eight shots,” Brown added. “He deserves more, because he is by far our best shooter. But it’s small steps for him. I think we’re all proud of him.”
Arkansas (3-0) will go into Tuesday night’s 6:30 p.m. game – which will be televised by ESPNEWS – after a week that saw it rout Wake Forest (83-53) and Delaware State (99-71) at home.
The Razorbacks are averaging over 90 points per game heading into the game at Moody Coliseum, which reduced capacity from 8,998 to 7,000 seats last year but added luxury suites and enhancements with the $47 million dollar renovation.
They will be the fifth straight unbeaten foe that the Mustangs have played this season.
“I heard (ESPN analyst) Jay Bilas say that Arkansas is the best team that nobody’s talking about in the country,” Brown said. “They’ve got everybody just about back.”
Arkansas downed SMU 89-78 last season at Bud Walton Arena, but the Mustangs played without Frazier whose previous career-high before Saturday was 11 points.
Alandise Harris had 19 points and Michael Qualls 17 for the Razorbacks in that game.
“They beat us last year at their place,” Brown added. “It was the most lopsided game even though it was a six-point game with a minute-and-a-half to go and we had the ball. But I got the feeling they had control the whole game.”
SMU finished the season 27-10, going 18-1 at home (12-1 at Moody Coliseum) and lost 65-63 to Minnesota in the NIT championship game and return 10 players off that team.
Brown was asked after his team’s win over Eastern Michigan if the game with Arkansas was big for the Mustangs’ resume.
“This is a long season, this is a marathon,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of big games. Our goal is to get better.
“Lamar was not a great team and we won that on talent,” Brown added. “Gonzaga was a great team and we got out-coached and out-played.
“Indiana at Indiana – that’s a tough environment and they are a quality team,” Brown continued. “I think we improved. Tonight, I think this was a quality team so hopefully we can make little steps.”
SMU is playing without academically ineligible starting center Markus Kennedy and appears to have lost transfer Justin Martin for some time due to a knee injury that had him carted off the court on Saturday.
The Mustangs are led by 6-8, 205-pound sophomore forward Ben Moore (13.3, 7.8) and Nic Moore, the 5-9 senior guard who is averaging 12.8 points and 5 assists per game this season.
They are joined in the starting line up by 6-11 senior center Yanick Moreira (10.5, 5.5), Frazier (10.5) and 6-6, 205-pound sophomore guard Ben Emelogu (5.0).
Nic Moore and Kennedy were both named to the preseason first-team All-American Athletic Conference squad.
The Mustangs were picked second in the 2014-2015 preseason poll behind Louisville.
They expected to add guard Emmanuel Mudiay – Scout.com's second-best high school player last season behind current Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor, who was born in Fort Smith.
But Mudiay was not on track to get his degree per a Dallas Morning News report, and ended up signing a $1.2 million dollar deal with the Guangdone Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball League.
“I don’t know how it would have gone, but I think we’d be competing for a national championship,” Brown said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I was convinced when we recruited Emmanuel that he was the best player in the country. I still think he’s capable of being the No. 1 pick, depending on what somebody needs.
“(But) you can only be coaching the kids who are here,” Brown said.
SMU Awaits Arkansas' Arrival
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