Game Preview: SMU vs. Rutgers

Come inside as we preview SMU's next basketball game!

SMU(14-4, 3-2 AAC) hosts the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-10, 2-3 AAC) in each team's sixth conference matchup of the season. The Mustangs are currently on a three game winning streak and are looking to improve to a perfect 10-0 at home.

WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. CT

WHERE: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum)


SERIES: (0-0) This will be the first meeting ever between the two programs.

PONY TRENDS: The SMU Mustangs knew they had a bit of a task playing four games in the span of seven days, but there have been no signs of turbulence or fatigue since they took off on their flight out of Louisville.

In the last three games, SMU has beaten their opponents by an average of 17.6 points per game and has held each team under 55 points. The Mustangs have gotten a big boost from the re-energized play of sophomore Markus Kennedy, who is leading the team in points and rebounds per game within conference play (13.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

Larry Brown's squad is still doing their best Seattle Seahawks impression with their "blanket coverage" on defense. SMU refuses to allow opponents to shoot better than 40 percent from the field even without Yanick Moreira. They will look to continue that trend against Rutgers.

OPPONENT STRENGTHS: Rutgers guard Myles Mack has shown that he can be one of the best guards in the conference and earned an appearance on the Honor Roll for his efforts this past week averaging 20 ppg, 5.5 assists, and 3.0 steals.

The 5-foot-9 junior ranks first in the AAC in free throw percentage, second in steals, fourth in assists and fifth in scoring.

The Knights don't have a big presence on the interior having no players over 6-foot-9 but they did out-rebound Houston, 49-38. Rutgers does a good job on the offensive glass specifically where they beat Houston 23-6.

Matchup to Watch: Myles Mack vs. Nic Moore. It's rare that Nic Moore gets to pick on someone his own size but here is his chance. With Mack being under-sized but highly skilled, it will be interesting to see the two play against each other. Both guards shoot well and both play good defense.

The most interesting part about the matchup is the fact that Nic Moore has not been as hot as he once was and Mack has been lighting it up. This matchup could turn out to be a let down because SMU hold's an advantage on the interior and Moore will probably look to facilitate more than score but it should still be fun to watch.

Keys to the Game: SMU – Rack up the points in the paint. It seems like Markus Kennedy is really feeling like he is one of the best forwards in the conference, and he's certainly playing like it. No need to stray away from what is working-– feed the beast. If they continue to defend and rebound well this should be a pretty easy win for the Mustangs.

The only way Rutgers can beat SMU is if they get the Mustangs in foul trouble by attacking the rim or by shooting the ball exceptionally. SMU's defense is swarming but they can leave players on the perimeter open at times. Rutgers will have to do what many teams can't do against the Mustangs, and that's get great looks and convert great looks into buckets. If Mack can get to the free throw line that will help his team immensely.

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