Matt Visinsky

Game Preview: SMU vs. Sam Houston State

Billy breaks down SMU's season opener and banner night against Sam Houston State!

WHEN: Saturday, November 14 at 7 pm CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Texas)
SERIES: SMU leads the series 2-0
LAST MEETING: SMU won the last meeting 72-53 in 2013

Pony Trends

SMU opens with an opponent that is a relative unknown with plenty of new faces in the lineup, but the bigger storyline of course is how will SMU respond in a game following the NCAA sanctions. This will be a team with a chip on their shoulder, but they can't allow it to have them make mental errors and play without discipline. The team's goal is to show everyone what they'll be missing this year from the NCAA tournament, but they'll need to play as one and not as a group of individuals playing ticked off. Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy return, who should come out firing for the Mustangs.

Scouting Sam Houston State

Three of the team's four returning players don't have too much experience starting or in major minutes, but it's the five JUCO transfers and three redshirt freshmen that are the wildcards for this Sam Houston team. Sam Houston is traditionally one of the better defensive teams in the Southland, but will have to break in the new players to their squad, which could be a perfect storm for SMU to attack. Not only is Sam Houston inexperienced, but SMU has so much chemistry together, that will give the Kats trouble.

Three Players to Watch

Dakari Henderson: Henderson was the sixth man last year for Sam Houston and averaged nine points and 2.3 rebounds per game from his guard position. 

Aurimas Majauskas: Majauskas can match Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert in the post and averaged 8.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last year. At 6-8, 228, Kennedy and Tolbert will have to establish dominance early.

Paul Baxter: The lone returning starter from last year's team averaged over eight points and two rebounds a game. He'll have to set the tone for this inexperienced group.

Matchup to Watch

Baxter vs. Moore: How will Baxter defend the reigning AAC Player of the Year? The 6-2 guard will certainly have his hands full, but he'll need help from his teammates as well. Henderson will likely see some time guarding Moore as well, but it'll start for Sam Houston with stopping Moore as SMU's offense runs through him. They'll need their best tonight against Moore and even then, it might not be enough.

Keys to the Game

A fast start will be necessary for SMU as the team gets this season underway. Facing a team with so much turnover, there's a lot of unknowns so SMU will do well to start fast and get Sam Houston on their heels.  Moody Magic will be back and ready to let the NCAA hear them I think so the environment on banner night should be electric to start. SMU has to take advantage of that and get them even more jacked up.

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