1. Ryan ManuelManuel was first off, phenomenal on defense and also added points and rebounds. Manuel knew when to take it to the basket and was aggressive all night. In his senior year, Manuel is making a claim to an All-AAC selection with his play. While Markus Kennedy made some key baskets along with Nic Moore down the stretch, Manuel set the tone in my mind and played a tremendous game.
SMU scored 42 of its 75 points in the paint and established that would be a focus early. Kennedy had 17 points, Yanick Moreira had six points, but nine rebounds, Ben Moore had nine points and Cannen Cunningham had eight points. SMU was also able to take advantage off the dribble well and get to the basket. SMU could have topped 90 if the bigs shot the ball better around the paint.
2. In the paint scoring
SMU came out red hot in the second half, going 6-for-6 to start the second stanza. SMU built a 12-point lead that called for a Houston timeout to try and slow the Mustangs production, but it was the difference in the game. Houston was never able to fully recover and the Mustangs got the win. While SMU did let Houston get hot from three-point range in the second half, SMU could almost score at will and that was the difference.
3. Second Half Scoring
1. Offensive ReboundingSMU gave up far too many second chances in the first half, but Houston couldn’t convert those second chance opportunities into a win. If Houston would have done a better job shooting the ball, SMU could have easily lost this road game. Houston had 13 second chance points and 13 offensive boards. SMU has to clean that up against a much more talented Connecticut team.
SMU tried a 2-3 zone at one point and a three-point attempt fell right away. SMU didn’t bother with the 2-3 anymore, but Houston still got enough looks to worry about and eventually SMU had to really worry as the Cougars got hot from three-point range. Jherrod Stiggers almost got Houston to the comeback win, but SMU made enough plays at the end to fend off the rally.
2. Three-Point Rotation
SMU didn’t get into foul trouble tonight, but there were a few too many off the ball or offensive fouls for the team tonight. Tough to kill possessions that way so it’s just a little thing to clean up. Ben Moore ended up fouling out so that’s never a good thing. A big thing to clean up is missed free throws. SMU is the best free throw shooting team in the AAC, but shot just 54 percent. Luckily, Kennedy did make some key free throws down the stretch.
3. Fouls and Free Throws