Old NBA Rivals to Face Off at RAC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Eddie Jordan and Larry Brown are used to battling in the NBA. For the second time this season, they are set to clash as college head coaches when No. 23 SMU travels to Rutgers for a rematch. The Scarlet Knights lost 70-56 to SMU earlier this season.

The last time Eddie Jordan and Larry Brown met as head coaches, it was a lopsided victory for SMU. Before that, flash back to March 31, 2010 when the Charlotte Bobcats beat the Philadelphia 76ers behind 24 points from Gerald Wallace.

Brown was the winner for both, but had a mini coaching rivalry with Jordan when both were head coaches in the Eastern Conference. Brown and Jordan battled 15 times between 2004 and 2010. Thursday night at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, they do it again.

"Larry's a great coach," Jordan said after Tuesday's practice. "He's a great person. I've had conversations with him when I just want to get some coaching points. As a matter of fact, we spoke yesterday. He's really solid. He's been around forever."

SMU (19-5, 8-3) finds itself in uncharted territory as the No. 23 team in the country in this week's AP poll. Brown took over the program when it was in a 20-year NCAA tournament drought.

Pulling off an upset over No. 7 Cincinnati on Saturday night, however, has the Mustangs poised to return to the post season.

"It's no secret. It's no surprise that he got that program on track," Jordan said. "He's really been a rebuilder, in a sense."

Brown is in the second year of his rebuilding project, and already finding success. With Jordan in his first, taking over Rutgers less than a year ago, the two have similar goals.

Facing off Thursday night at the RAC, Rutgers has sights set on its first true upset of the season.

"He's facing the same challenges we are," Brown said on former NBA rival Jordan. "He's a really good coach and a great guy. I think they're on the right track."

Brown has a 10-6 advantage in head-to-head matchups between the two. His most recent victory came Jan. 21 in a lopsided victory over Rutgers.

SMU, winning 70-56, controlled the pace against Rutgers and held leading scorers Myles Mack and Kadeem Jack to a combined 4-for-22 from the floor.

Since the loss to SMU, Rutgers is 2-3 with wins against Houston and USF.

"We've had pretty good efforts since then outside of the Memphis game, I guess," Jordan said. "We've had some pretty good halves. We had a pretty good two halves against USF. I think guys understand what we have to do to be successful. ... The main guys have to play at a high level. Everyone has to play at a high level."

SMU looks to continue its upward trend as one of the biggest stories in college basketball. The Mustangs are winners of nine out of their last 10 games. Their one loss, came at USF where Rutgers won Saturday night.

"We've never been here before and we don't want to leave," said SMU's Cannen Cunningham on being ranked. "We have a target on our backs and we know that, and we're ready for it."

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