WHEN: Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 2 p.m. CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Tex.)
TV/RADIO: ESPNU/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: SMU trails the series 15-30.
LAST MEETING: SMU beat the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa 68-57.
SMU has had a week of a bad taste in the team’s mouth after the team’s loss on the road to Connecticut last Sunday. The team allowed Rodney Purvis and Ryan Boatright to have their way with them. SMU has played incredible defense most of the year, but the team got back down to earth by the Huskies. Lucky for SMU, Tulsa lost and the team is now playing to win its first regular season conference championship since 1993. SMU didn’t play terribly against the Huskies, but the defense has to get better. Tulsa can’t possibly be as hot as UConn’s shooters were last week, right?
Tulsa shot just 34 percent in their loss to Cincinnati on Thursday. While the team made 7-of-13 from three-point range, Tulsa’s top players didn’t perform with a chance to wrap up at least a shared AAC title. Now, with the winner-take-all scenario, Tulsa needs its big players to step up. Rashad Ray coming off the bench has to worry SMU fans that have seen opponents get pretty good looks from three-point range for some of the season. Rashad Smith and James Woodard are two proven performers for the Golden Hurricane as well that SMU should watch for.
Three Players to Watch
James Woodard: Woodard was Tulsa’s leading scorer against SMU last time out with 15 points, but Woodard shot 5-of-16 from the field.
Rashad Smith: Tulsa’s top big man is averaging over eight points and six rebounds a game and will have his hands full with SMU’s front court. Smith needs to step up and own the paint if the Golden Hurricane have a chance.
Rashad Ray: Ray shot 5-of-6 from three-point range against Cincinnati and coming off the bench, Ray is another threat for SMU to pay attention to.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Ryan Manuel and Sterling Brown vs. Tulsa’s 2 and 3. Anytime Manuel and Brown are on the floor, it’s usually a tough night for the opponent’s guards. Aside from UConn, the pair are arguably one of the top tandems defensively in the country when they’re locked in. Manuel, playing in his final game in Moody, and Brown, who plays with a chip on his shoulder, will be out for blood after being torched by Connecticut.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The crowd and Nic Moore. SMU saw Nic Moore struggle a little bit against UConn a week ago, not shooting the ball particularly well. If Moore can get rolling early and the Moody crowd is alive and ready for the big-time matchup, SMU will have two key pieces to getting the win in place. Moore is the key cog that makes SMU’s offense run and UConn did a terrific job of getting SMU out of its game. Look for Moore to lead SMU to a conference championship and get the momentum back in the right direction for SMU.