Demo breaks down SMU's matchup tonight at 8 p.m. CT at Houston!
WHEN: Thursday, February 12. Tipoff at 8 p.m. CT
WHERE: Hofheinz Pavillion (Houston, Texas)
TV/RADIO: ESPNU; KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: Houston holds an all-time record of 47-28 over SMU, but the Mustangs have beaten the Cougars three straight times in regular season play.
LAST MEETING: Nic Moore hit 8-11 three pointers – scored 28 points and SMU cruised past Houston 80-59
SMU has won 17 of their last 19 games and are second in the American Athletic Conference behind Tulsa
. After beating the Golden Hurricane 68-55 last Saturday, SMU has as close to first place as they could be… without actually being in first place. With only six games left (including Thursday’s match against Houston) every game matters even more because time to overtake Tulsa is running out. ESPN’s College Game Day is coming to the Hilltop on Saturday for SMU vs UCONN. That is all well and good, but it doesn’t mean SMU can look past Houston.
Houston has three players averaging double-digit scoring, and is shooting 38.4 percent from the field as a team. I suppose you could say they turn the ball over a little too much; However, Houston average scoring margin this season is only -2.0. That means all of its games have been close- in fact, when Houston played Cincinnati, the Bearcats only won by seven. SMU lost to Cincinnati twice this season- that should tell you a little something about how hard Houston plays and how competitive it actually is. Again, this isn’t a team SMU can look past because despite what their record may say, they are capable of competing with the teams in this conference.
Three Players to Watch
Jherrod Stiggers: I mentioned that there are three Cougars averaging double-digit figures- well Stiggers leads the way with 14.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a game. The 6’4” 215 pound junior guard is shooting 34 percent from the floor and 33.2 percent from three point range.
Danrad Knowles: Second in that group of three is Knowles with 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. Knowles is actually performing at the same level as Stiggers in conference play and is averaging 12.8 points a game against conference opponents.
Devonta Pollard: The 6’8” 200 pound junior forward id averaging 10.2 points, and 5.8 rebounds a game. He doesn’t shoot any three, but he is incredibly efficient from the floor with a 45.2 shooting percentage.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Pollard & Knowles vs Yanick Moreira & Ben Moore: Houston doesn’t have a true center and is relatively small all the way across the board. However, Pollard and Knowles are among Houston’s bigger guys and Pollard is their most efficient “big man.” So it is going to be up to Moreira and Moore, and even Markus Kennedy to slow down two of the three heads of this Houston offensive attack. Given SMU’s size advantage, the Mustangs should be able to force Houston to make jump shots- which is what they do to opponents anyway.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Continue holding onto the ball well, and rebound. Again, Houston isn’t a very big team- so if SMU can dominate the glass (and it should), this could be a relatively painless game. I suppose another key is to not be looking ahead to Saturday. With the race for the top spot in the conference, SMU cannot afford to let one slip away to 1-9 (AAC) team. If the Mustangs show up, they can win easily and bolster win easily and bolster their already impressive road record.