Game Preview: SMU vs. Cincinnati

Hatts previews SMU's shot at redemption at home against the Cincinnati Bearcats!

When: Thursday February 5th at 8 p.m. CT
Where: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Texas)
TV/Radio: ESPN/ KAAM 700 AM
Series: SMU is 2-4 against Cincinnati in the series
Last Meeting: Cincinnati beat SMU in the first matchup this season, 56-50, in Ohio on January 3rd.

Pony Trends

SMU has won eight straight, extending their longest win streak since the 1992-93 season and took care of business at home against UCF with a 75-56 victory over the Knights. After getting off to a slow start in the first half, SMU pulled away in the second half thanks to a season high 20 points from senior Ryan Manuel and a couple big threes by sophomore Ben Emelogu. Markus Kennedy also played 28 minutes and recorded a double-double with his thirteen points and eleven rebounds. SMU now begins the toughest portion of their schedule beginning with this matchup and a trip to Tulsa on Saturday.

Opponent Strengths

Cincinnati is a tough defensive team and will absolutely wear you out on that end of the court over the course of the game. They are not going to blow any team away with their shooting but will make life difficult on opponents by playing great defense for all 35 seconds of the shot clock. Cincinnati is 6-3 in conference play but is best described by two simple statistics. They are averaging only 62.4 points per game, which ranks 295th in the nation, while only having one scorer averaging in double figures. The Bearcats do rank 5th in the nation in defense at only 54.5 points per game. This shows you exactly how the Bearcats were able to beat SMU in the first matchup. The problem with Cincinnati was on display in their last matchup however when they lost to East Carolina 50-46. The Bearcats shot only 35.6% from the field and 16.7% from behind the arc.

Three Players to Watch

Troy Caupain: Troy Caupain is only a sophomore but is one of the biggest players for the Bearcats because the multitude of ways he can hurt you on the court. Caupain is the Bearcats leading scorer at 10.1 points per game but he also grabs close to 4 rebounds per night and also that many assists. To go with this, he averages 1 steal per game. Caupain’s only problem is that he does turn the ball over just over two times per game. SMU did a great job containing him in the first matchup holding him to 7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.

Octavius Ellis: Junior Octavius Ellis is another big key for SMU to slow down. The post man is averaging 9.4 points per game while pulling down 7.1 rebounds. Ellis had a good day against SMU in their first matchup when he went 6-7 from the field for 12 points while picking up 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Now that SMU has their full plethora of big men back and clicking on all cylinders, it will be tougher for Ellis to have this similar type of success.

Gary Clark: Only in his freshman year, Gary Clark is going to be a big time playmaker in the years to come. In only his first season, Clark is averaging 7.9 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. Clark was right on average in his first game when he had 8 points and 7 rebounds for the Bearcats. Clark also contributed two blocks in the game.

Matchup To Watch

SMU Front Court vs Cincinnati Front Court- This might have been the matchup that killed the Mustangs the most in January and will be key to turn around if they hope to pull this one out. Between SMU’s front line starters and bench players they only had 18 points to go with 13 rebounds. For the Bearcats, they got 26 points from their front line to go with 19 rebounds. With Markus Kennedy back at full strength and Yanick Moreira at the top of his game, this should be a matchup SMU can turn in their favor this time around.

Keys to the Game

In the first matchup, it was turnovers that were the story of the game for SMU. The Mustangs have gotten that under control lately but will be tested when they go against this rugged defense. In the first matchup SMU had 17 turnovers to only 13 assists, but that should improve in front of their home crowd. Another key for SMU will be to get some sort of production off the bench, another area they struggled in the first matchup. For SMU, it will once again be about playing the great defense they’ve played lately and get the Moody crowd into the game early.

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