Play of the Year

The Pony Stampede staff picks their play of the year for SMU basketball!

Billy: Manuel three-pointers vs. Temple

Shown at 1:17 and 1:23 of the highlights above, Manuel’s three-pointers were a shock to be honest for most of the Moody Coliseum crowd. Manuel took just 11 three-point shots this year and made four. The two biggest shots quite possibly of the year for Manuel were in the Temple game on Feb. 19 in Moody Coliseum. SMU was down 10 points in the second half and Manuel’s threes set off the Moody Crowd after the comeback was complete. Manuel always has the green light to shoot and Larry Brown’s message was in the back of his mind during the shot, "So he tells me to shoot every time and if I don't, he gets mad. That was going through the back of my head."

This is my loudest moment of the season. The Connecticut game was loud and Nic Moore’s three definitely got consideration, but Manuel’s three, being so unexpected has to be my pick. The season defining moment was the goaltending call, but we’re staying positive here and Manuel hit two big shots to hurt Temple’s NCAA chances and continue SMU’s run to the regular season AAC title. The best part about the shots…no one saw them coming.

Scott: Ben Moore-Ryan Manuel Alley Oop vs ECU

There were so many impressive alley oops this season, but this one stood out to me the most. This stood out to me because it all started with defense; something Coach Brown preaches non-stop to these guys. After a heads-up pass from Markus Kennedy to Ben Moore, Moore floats his pass towards the rim from behind the three-point line and with complete accuracy. His lob then finds a flying Ryan Manuel who fully extends and throws down a monstrous dunk. Moore's dunk just minutes earlier gave the Mustangs back the lead in the 2nd half, but this dunk helped turn the momentum in SMU's favor.

Patrick: Nic Moore's late go-ahead three at Temple

It's hard to pick from all of the highlight-reel alley oops, dunks and barrages of Nic Moore's three-pointers. But I'm going to pick one that I think might have been his biggest of the season. Let's set the stage. In a Jan. 14 game at Temple, SMU had clawed back from a 13-point second-half deficit and was tied with the Owls with 1:42 to play in regulation. SMU hadn't yet hit its stride yet: the Mustangs look shaky in a road loss at Cincinnati 10 days earlier, Markus Kennedy hadn't found his game shape, and the Keith Frazier rumors were in full swirl. Back to the game: A Quenton DeCosey made free throw erased a brief SMU lead, but on SMU's ensuing possession, Moore drained a three-pointer with 1:18 to go that gave SMU a 55-52 lead it would not relinquish. The 60-55 win moved the Mustangs to 13-4 and 4-1 in conference play.

Nic was coming off a horrid first half in which he had six turnovers and five points. While he had just one turnover in the second half, he didn't score again until the 2:05 mark in the half. His clutch play in this game sparked his best stretch of the season: He would turn the ball over just twice in his next 120 minutes, average 20 points per game (over three games) and shoot 14-for-27 from deep. That Temple game was, in my opinion, his turning point and the team's turning point. Moore stopped pressing like he sometimes did early in the year and in 2013-14 and really became the leader of a team that would lose only twice more until the NCAA tournament heartbreaker.

Hatts: Nic Moore’s three vs. Connecticut

There were a lot of special moments at SMU this season, including numerous alley oops and tournament celebrations but none were more memorable than Nic Moore capping a huge run to give SMU a 67-39 lead over Connecticut on Valentines Day (Start the video at 1:00). This was as loud as I have ever heard Moody and one of the few times I’ve got chills covering a game. To be up 67-39 on the defending national champions on national television was the moment that you knew this team had officially arrived on the national stage. In just 4 years, SMU had gone from a team where at times the amount of road fans outnumbered the amount of fans actually at the games to this point where you couldn’t even have the moment last long enough. In what was a special season on the Hilltop, down the road this will be one of the memories that truly stands out for me about this team and this season. I get it was a blow out and how can the best moment come up 28 points but to see and feel the electricity inside the building was by far the moment of the season.

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