WHEN: Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. Tipoff is at 6 p.m CT.
WHERE: Moody Coliseum/Dallas, Texas
TV/RADIO: ESPNews/SMU-KAAM 770AM
SERIES: Wyoming leads 4-3 (Mustangs won last year 62-54)
LAST MEETING: SMU won 62-54 in Laramie to move SMU to 10-2.
After losing two straight tough road contests to Gonzaga and Indiana, the Mustangs continued to struggle some, losing a hard-fought battle against Arkansas and not playing their best basketball even in wins against Eastern Washington and Texas State. Against Monmouth, while the team as a whole struggled offensively, Nic Moore (23 points, 5 assists) and Cannen Cunningham (10, points, 5 rebounds) provided the Mustangs’ offensive punch, and held the Hawks to just 40 percent shooting. It still wasn’t the prettiest, but SMU got back to rebounds and only turned the ball over 10 times, which is actually an improvement.
Wyoming is led by senior forward Larry Nance Jr. who leads the team averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds, but Wyoming wins as a team. The Cowboys take smart shots, share the ball effectively, and make you work for your points. Wyoming also has good depth, with nine players averaging at least 13 minutes a game.
Ben Moore vs. Larry Nance Jr.: Moore will have his hands full Friday night when he’s tasked with guarding the Cowboys’ best player in Nance. Nance has some size, about 25 pounds, on Moore, so staying out of foul trouble and playing physical defense will be key for the Mustangs’ sophomore. This is also a perfect game for Moore to break out of his 5-game streak of poor play. Moore will get pushed around some, but the key for him is not backing down on the offensive side of the ball. If Moore gets his confidence up on the defensive side of the ball, his offensive game should follow.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The Cowboys have the second highest field goal percentage in the nation at 54.7 percent, so limiting their open looks and second-chance opportunities has to be the Mustangs’ main defensive priority. But the Mustangs have the talent to match up with Wyoming, now it just depends on which SMU team shows up. If the Mustangs can get a balanced offensive effort from Nic Moore, Ben Moore, Keith Frazier and Yanick Moreira, plus help off the bench from Cunningham and Sterling Brown, they can win. But if Friday is another night where Nic Moore has to carry this team offensively, it could mean another poor night similar to the first half against Arkansas. On the defensive side of the ball, closing on the perimeter against the Cowboys is going to be key because they’re able to knock down a respectable 36 percent of their three-point shots. And as always, rebounding, on both sides of the floor, will be important, especially considering Wyoming is hitting such a high percentage of their field goal attempts right now. Overall, this is a winnable game for SMU and would help get the Mustangs moving in the right direct.
KEYS TO THE GAME