In the words of Slim Shady, “I had a dream I was king. Woke up- still king.”
SMU is on top of the American Athletic Conference and now, they are separating.
Looking back it’d be even better if the Mustangs had been able to beat Cincinnati at least once. Just to summarize- here is what happened after SMU’s second loss to Cincinnati: a win over conference leading Tulsa, middle of the pack UCONN beats Tulsa and SMU becomes new top dog, and to cap it all off SMU destroys Connecticut 73-55 on Valentine’s Day.
In case you forgot, SMU beat UCONN twice last season but was left out of the NCAA tournament while the Huskies went on to win it.
You want to make a statement after losing to Cincinnati at home; this is how you do it. Cut the legs off the conference leader on the road and watch them slide for a couple games and then absolutely own the defending National Champs.
Now I will say, we keep calling UCONN that, but they haven’t really played like National Champs this season. They are 7-5 in conference play after all. Event still, they were a tough, high-profile opponent that needed to be taken out on the biggest stage of the 2014-15 season thus far.
That is what was impressive/reassuring in the win- it was on the biggest stage possible at this point of the season.
College Gameday was in attendance as were 7,395 (new record) fans. Moody was loud from the start and just got louder and louder as the game went on.
What has been most impressive about this team all season long is their attention to defense. It was always okay, but once Markus Kennedy came back, Keith Frazier was out, and Ryan Manuel and Sterling Brown started, the defensive intensity really seemed to have picked up.
The beautiful thing about playing good defense is that (especially at home) every time an opponent misses a shot or you force a turn over the crowd becomes deafening. The players feed off that and the opposing team shrinks.
On the road it sucks the life out of the crowd and a similar effect happens, but in reverse.
SMU had four players reach double figures and Cannen Cunningham needed just one more point to be the fifth.
We still haven’t seen Ben Moore assert himself offensively like we saw early in the season, but he and Brown have been terrors defensively.
The defining moment of Saturday’s blow out came right after Ryan Boatright hit his second three-pointer of the night to give UCONN a 10-3 lead. SMU then went on an 18-2 run fueled by – you guessed it—solid defense and easy transition buckets.
I know it’s cliché, but I also don’t care- defense wins championships and right now, SMU is playing some really good defense.