Hatts has your rapid reaction to SMU's 62-54 victory over UConn to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time since 1988!
How it Happened
It was an absolute battle all second half long, but the SMU Mustangs showed why they are heading to the NCAA tournament in a tough 62-54 victory. After consecutive games with slow starts, SMU lead most of the way in the first half with their biggest lead reaching 14. Nic Moore struggled from the field but that didn’t matter with Markus Kennedy dominating throughout with 14 points and chipping in a couple of rebounds as well. After struggling most of the second half of the season, Ben Moore came alive late in the first half with a couple big baskets at the end of the first half, including an alley oop dunk from Nic Moore to end the half. UConn battled foul trouble, as well as, cold shooting throughout the first half. In the first half UConn shot an ice cold 21%. To compound their problems Philip Nolan and Amida Brimah both picked up 2 fouls while Rakim Lubin picked up 3 fouls. The second half was much the same story for the Mustangs early on with tough defense and quality offense to maintain their sizable lead before UConn got back into it thanks to the crowd and Rodney Purvis. Purvis finished with 29 points. The Mustangs dominated on the offensive glass throughout the game, and a big reason for that was SMU guard Sterling Brown who had 12 rebounds.
What it Means
SMU continued their historic season by winning their first conference title since 1988. The Mustangs once again battled through adversity playing essentially a road game against UConn but were still able to fight through it for their conference tournament title.
Player of the Game
Brown did not score a lot but did just about every other thing for SMU in this game. Brown finished with 12 rebounds for the Mustangs and played some very stingy defense. Coach Brown has talked all year long about all the plays he makes outside of the stat sheet and today was one of those days where he truly made the difference.
SMU had to withstand a little run without their big man Markus Kennedy who picked up his 4th foul with just over 10 minutes left in the second half. Also on the bench with 4 fouls early in the second half was Ben Moore.
SMU will be making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993.
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