WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, TX)
TV/RADIO: ESPN 2/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: SMU’s overall series is tied 3-3 with USF. Both sides won on their home court last season.
SMU is coming off a hard fought 70-61 win over Midwestern State. Despite struggling with turnovers again, the Mustangs were able to grind out a win in their first game in nine days. The win marked SMU’s 7th in a row and helped them finish off the non-conference portion of their season 9-3.
SMU got massive games from Nic Moore and Yanick Moreira. Moore finished with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Most importantly, Moore only had 1 turnover on the day. Moreira was just as dominant for SMU, falling just short of a triple double. Moreira was aggressive all game long and altered a ton of shots which could be huge for SMU heading into conference play. Another positive for SMU was Markus Kennedy seeing 16 minutes of action though he struggled with 3 turnovers but expect to see him get better as this team heads through conference play.
USF got off to a fast start this season, starting 5-1, but have struggled over the past couple of weeks including a 79-70 loss to Bowling Green Sunday night. Offensively this team has not played well but certainly is still a team to be reckoned with. USF gave SMU problems last year when the Mustangs were not able to slow down Corey Allen Jr, who had 18 points in the 78-71 victory for the Bulls, and Chris Perry who will provide a good test down low. The Bulls do shot the ball well, as they average just over 47% per game. Another area to watch for with this team is their size down low, as they are averaging 5.2 blocks per game, and alter even more shots than that.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Corey Allen Jr. The Bulls have a three-headed monster that they lean heavily on and the leader of this pack is the senior guard. Allen Jr. is averaging 16.9 points and 3.2 assists per game. Allen Jr. was one of the big players in USF’s upset victory over the Mustangs and proved to be problematic with 5 assists to go with his 18 points, as well as, 2 steals. Allen Jr. has been shooting 51.3% on the season while hitting just over 41% from behind the arc. Look for Ryan Manuel to guard him for most of the game.
Chris Perry At times this season, SMU has struggled rebounding the ball. Well, if they can’t rebound the ball well Wednesday afternoon, Chris Perry is going to cause major problem. Perry had 8 in the Bull’s victory last year and is averaging 7.5 rebounds this year while also blocking just over 1 shot per game. Perry is 6’8, 266 and will be a tough matchup for the Mustangs down low. To go with his high rebounding total, Perry has also averaged 12.8 points in just his second season at South Florida.
Ben Moore vs. Chris Perry: This will likely be a rotation for SMU, but whoever is on Perry needs to match him on the boards. Ben Moore was able to get 13 rebounds tonight and will likely need an effort similar to that to slow down Perry who will be a load down low. This could also be a good time for Kennedy to provide some good minutes for SMU. Ryan Manuel on Corey Allen Jr. will also be another matchup to watch but look for this to be the key to the game.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
As conference play is finally upon us, it’s time for SMU to clean up some of the mistakes that have plagued them all season long. Turnovers will once again be a key for this team heading into Wednesday night’s matchup. USF, although they have some good scorers, have struggled at times this year to score the ball. The last thing SMU needs to do is give them easy scores or extra possessions. SMU did a much better job rebounding the basketball tonight, largely thanks to Moreira and Moore, but will need more help from Kennedy and Cunningham as we hit conference play. The biggest key to this game, however, is to come out ready to play Wednesday, it is conference play now and these games will take on a new importance.
KEYS TO THE GAME