3 Up, 3 Down: SMU vs. UC-Irvine

We share three positives and three negatives from SMU's win in the first round of the NIT!

3 Up

1. Balanced Attack. The Mustangs used a very balanced attack offensively to advance out of the first round of the NIT. SMU had four players score at least nine points and was lead by Cannen Cunningham's 17. It was one of Cunningham's best games of the season as he added three rebounds, two blocks, and two steals as well. The Mustangs bench outscored the Anteaters by 26 points and freshman Ben Moore had 11 points and seven rebounds. SMU had an 11-point advantage in fast break points and eight more second chance points. Point guard Nic Moore facilitated the balanced attack with eight of the team's 12 assists in the game. Overall, Larry Brown has to be pleased with how his team shared the ball and how the bench stepped up big.

2. Second Half Surge. The Mustangs came out of the locker room playing much better in the second half. After trailing by one at the break, SMU came out and shot 41 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range in the second half to take the victory. The Mustangs outscored UC-Irvine 39-24 in the half. The Anteaters shot an abysmal 23 percent from the field and 16 percent from three after a scorching first half. It took a halftime talk from Larry Brown, but the Mustangs eventually looked like the team that beat Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Memphis at Moody Coliseum this year.

3. Turnovers. The Mustangs did a much better job of taking care of the ball in this one. In the first half, they only turned the ball over four times while the Anteaters had 12. For the game, the Mustangs only turned the ball over a total of eight times and scored 19 points off UC-Irvine's 20 turnovers. The Mustangs had eight steals in the first half and finished with 13 for the game. Nic Moore and Nick Russell, the teams primary ball handlers, had only one combined turnovers and zero in the first half. The only player who turned the ball over three times was Cannen Cunningham, but he had a terrific game overall.

3 Down

1. Slow Start. SMU allowed UC-Irvine to jump out to a 7-0 start and the Anteaters held on to lead at halftime 30-29. In the first half, SMU shot just 29 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range. Meanwhile, UC-Irvine was scorching from the outside in the first half and shot 50 percent from behind the arc. The Mustangs were also out-rebounded in the first half 21-17 and had five of their shots blocked. The second half SMU team looked much more focused and in sync.

2. Outside Shooting. The Mustangs have had some of the worst outside shooting in the country this season and didn't knock down many three-pointers tonight either. The team was just five for 12 from three-point range and Sterling Brown was responsible for two of them. Nick Russell struggled the most shooting from the outside and went just 3 for 10 for the game. However, even sharpshooter Nic Moore was off tonight. He and Keith Frazier each made just one three-pointer tonight, but the team still got the victory.

3. Shawn Williams. The senior struggled in one of his last games at Moody Coliseum. Williams finished with just 2 points, 2 rebounds, one steal and a turnover in 11 minutes of play. SMU was much more effective with Cannen Cunningham or Ben Moore on the floor instead of Williams. Also, Williams wasn't able to record a single defensive rebound and missed both his free throw attempts. Williams has meant a lot to this program and been a great leader this season, but his performance on the court tonight was not good at all.

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