Game Preview: SMU vs. Connecticut

SMU plays for the AAC title at 2:15 p.m. against Connecticut! Billy previews the game!

WHEN: Sunday, March 15 at 2:15 p.m. CT.
WHERE: XL Center (Hartford, Conn.)
TV/RADIO: ESPN/KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: SMU leads the series 4-1.
LAST MEETING: Connecticut beat SMU 81-73 in the team’s most recent meeting in Connecticut.

PONY TRENDS

SMU won its third comeback game over Temple of the year to secure its berth in the AAC Championship game. Markus Kennedy and Yanick Moreira led the way for SMU along with some big shots down the stretch from Nic Moore. SMU cleaned up some early mistakes to beat the Owls.

OPPONENT STRENGTHS

SMU got torched by Connecticut in the team’s loss at Connecticut earlier this year and the team has to tighten up this time around. UConn is playing like a team of destiny and will be energized by the home crowd. UConn came from behind to beat Tulsa yesterday and was down nine at one point with a few minutes left. With that type of momentum, SMU better come out with a good first punch today.

Three Players to Watch

Ryan Boatright: Boatright is the unquestioned leader of UConn and has shown it with his play the last two games, making the game winning three versus Cincinnati and making clutch free throws against Tulsa to ice the comeback win.

Rodney Purvis: Purvis had 28 points against SMU earlier this year. That’s really all you need to know. SMU has a tough task of defending the talented transfer.

Daniel Hamilton: Hamilton had 16 points against SMU and was named the freshman of the year in the AAC. Again, SMU will need to make sure Hamilton doesn’t get hot from three-point range.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Ryan Manuel vs. Ryan Boatright. In Moody Coliseum earlier this year, SMU switched Nic Moore and Manuel on Boatright and Manuel kept Boatright in check the rest of the game. Arguably it will be backcourt vs. backcourt today with the way Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton played in UConn’s win over SMU. Ultimately, SMU can’t let Boatright get in a groove and run the team the way he wants to. If SMU allows Boatright to do what he wants, the Mustangs will likely be coming out of the XL Center as runner-ups in the AAC bracket.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Keep the composure. This SMU team has a great deal of experience in tough situations, but this will be an atmosphere the team has likely not experienced before. Connecticut will basically have a home game and will have the place rocking. The key will be to weathering the storm and keeping the game close early so the team has a chance to win at the end.


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