SMU (18-5, 7-3) hosts No. 7 Cincinnati (22-2, 11-0) Saturday night in Moody Coliseum. SMU has won seven of eight and is looking to collect a victory against a third ranked opponent this season.
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 8. 6:30 P.M.
WHERE: Dallas, TX (Moody Coliseum)
RADIO/TV: ESPNU, KAAM 770 AM
ANALYSTS: EJ Holland and Beionny Mickles
SERIES: 1-3, including the loss to Cincinnati last month.
PONY TRENDS: A big theme of SMU's season has been depth. With center Yanick Moreira returning against Temple on Thursday, the Mustangs just got even deeper.
Moreira is not at full strength but gave SMU some good energy inside when he came off the bench. He missed 2-of-3 shots but grabbed four rebounds. Against a tough Cincinnati front court, SMU needs all the back up it can get.
Meanwhile, SMU's freshmen are not playing like freshmen. Sterling Brown's scoring against Temple was a bit of a letdown after his explosion against Memphis, but he played solid defense and grabbed five boards.
Keith Frazier has found shooting touch lately and will need to provide a scoring punch on Saturday. And Ben Moore is now the first big man off the bench. Against Temple, Moore scored 10 points, collected six rebounds and swatted away three shots.
OPPONENTS STRENGTHS: Where to begin? The Bearcats are the hottest team in the country right now. They are undefeated in conference play and present a tough challenge for the Mustangs.
The hallmark of this Cincinnati team is its defense. They allow 56.8 points per game, the best in the AAC, and they hold their opponents to 38.6 percent shooting from the field.
And then there is Sean Kilpatrick. The senior guard is a serious contender for the Player of the Year award and for good reason. He is averaging 19.7 points per game and dishes out 2.5 assists per game.
He also helps out on the glass-- against Connecticut on Tuesday, Kilpatrick led the team in scoring, assists and rebounds. He is a part of a senior class (including Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson) that anchors this Cincinnati team and never allows them to panic.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Sean Kilpatrick vs. Nick Russell. The two senior guards will duel it out on Saturday night. While Kilpatrick is the great scorer for Cincinnati, Russell has been the lockdown defender for SMU this season, and the Mustangs will need him more than ever in this matchup.
Russell will have to use all of his wile and skill to shut down Kilpatrick. Last time around, Russell limited the Bearcat leader to just three of twelve shooting from the field. An encore performance by the SMU senior could have the Mustangs ranked come Monday morning.
KEYS TO THE GAME: At practice, Larry Brown said the key for SMU would be free throws, and you can't argue with the Godfather. In the last matchup, Cincinnati enjoyed a 31 to nine advantage in free throws shot but only won the game by eight. If SMU can keep the Bearcats off the line and draw more contact on the offensive end, SMU could pull off the upset.
As for Cincy, the Bearcats need to limit the Mustangs inside. SMU has been one of the best teams in the country this year in terms of points in the paint. Cincinnati will need a great defensive effort in the post to be the first opponent to win on the road against SMU this year.
Game Preview: SMU vs. Cincinnati
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