Game Preview: SMU Mustangs vs. Houston Cougars

Billy previews SMU's road matchup against Houston tonight at 7 CT on CBS Sports Net.

When: Monday, February 1 at 7 pm CT
Where: Hofheinz Pavillion (Houston, Tex.)
TV/Radio: CBS Sports Net/KAAM 770 AM
Series: SMU trails Houston 30-47
Last Meeting: SMU beat Houton 77-73 on Jan. 19
Over/Under: 110
The Line: SMU -5.5

Pony Trends

SMU is coming off a beatdown for the most part of Memphis on Saturday at home as the team bounced back from its first loss of the season to Temple. The Mustangs looked fresh, energized and refocused against the Cougars. Probably the best news was Nic Moore's 22 points on the night that helped SMU to the 80-68 win. SMU dominated the glass and got Memphis into serious foul trouble by being aggressive and going to the paint often. Moore put 23 points on Houston the last time around while Markus Kennedy had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. SMU will look to replicate that same performance, but with a quicker start against the Cougars. SMU somehow tied the game at the half with a late run last time around and then pulled away late to beat the Cougars. 

Scouting Houston

After losing four straight since starting 3-0 in AAC play, Houston has won back-to-back games against Tulsa and East Carolina. It's not ridiculously impressive to beat East Carolina, but the Pirates have been on a streak taking down favored opponents. The Cougars though still won both and did so with huge games from Damyean Dotson and Rob Gray, Jr. SMU can control the paint pretty well against the Cougars, but must do a better job of defending the three than last time around.

Three Players to Watch

Rob Gray, Jr.: Gray didn't play when SMU hosted Houston earlier this season and the Cougars' leading scorer would have likely made a big difference. Gray scored 31 points in regulation to lead the Cougars. SMU will have to limit him tonight.

Damyean Dotson: Dotson crushed SMU in Moody Coliseum earlier in the year with an expanded role and he's coming off a 23-point, 13-rebound performance in the double overtime win against East Carolina. SMU can't allow him to get open like the Mustangs allowed for the majority of the first matchup of this season.

Galen Robinson, Jr.: Robinson put up 19 points against Tulsa and when paired with Gray, gives the Cougars a formidable backcourt combination.

Matchup to Watch

Gray Jr. vs. Nic Moore: Gray and Moore didn't get a chance to go up against eachother earlier this season, but this will be one of the better point guard matchups of the season for Moore. Both players are coming off huge performances and it'll be Moore's job to shut Gray down. If he can't SMU might not be able to beat the Cougars this time around.

Keys to the Game

SMU has to jump out on top of the Cougars on the road. In SMU's last road performance, the team faltered in the first half after going back-and-forth with Temple. That dug SMU a hole that the team just couldn't get out of. It's crucial that in this road matchup, SMU get off to a good start. Houston has the firepower to hang with SMU and if the team allows the Cougars to, they'll be in trouble. It's a big game for SMU in the sense that the team needs to keep the momentum going following their win over Memphis. SMU has a 2-game lead in the AAC regular season standings so taking care of a pesky Houston team will be key.

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