How it HappenedIt was a battle for SMU in their opening game of the conference tournament but they were able to grind out a win against East Carolina 74-68. SMU came out of the gates very slowly against ECU falling behind 19-9 early before roaring back to take the lead 23-22. SMU got good first half performances from Nic Moore who had 11 points while Ryan Manuel and Ben Moore also had good starts with 6 points apiece. The story of the first half however was ECU’s three-point shooting and SMU’s ability to turn the Pirates over. ECU had 8 three-pointers in the first half and 15 on the day but also turned it over 8 times leading to 15 points off turnovers for the Mustangs in the first half. ECU’s hot shooting continued in the second half largely thanks to Caleb White who finished the day with 14 points and 4 threes on the afternoon. Antonio Robinson also caused problems for SMU with his 4 threes. He finished with 18 points. SMU had an answer of their own led by AAC Player of the Year Nic Moore who finished the game with 20 points and 5 assists. The rest of the Mustangs followed suit with a balanced attack that saw everyone else have solid games and follow the lead of their point guard. With good passing and interior post play in the second half, SMU was able to establish their dominance however ECU continued to hang around thanks to their three-point shooting. Down the stretch it was Markus Kennedy who came alive after only playing 7 minutes in the first half. He finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
What it MeansIt wasn’t pretty for SMU but they survived and advanced to the semi finals of the conference tournament. SMU was facing a dangerous team in ECU that had nothing to play for and could just come out playing free. This proved challenging for SMU but they found a way to win.
Player of the GameNic Moore : Fresh off winning AAC Player of the Year, Nic Moore played like it throughout the game. The SMU point guard did everything for SMU with his 20 points and 5 assists. One other thing Moore did well was controlling the tempo nicely for the Mustangs and keeping them in a good rhythm.
Side NoteSMU went with a new starting lineup today with Nic Moore, Ryan Manuel, Ben Moore, Cannen Cunningham and Yanick Moreira.
What's Next?SMU will face the winner of Memphis and Temple at 2 p.m CT on Saturday. That game will also be on ESPN 2.
Check out Billy's SMU vs. ECU Game Preview!