1. Nic Moore
SMU got a huge lift from Nic Moore's performance today. The 22 points was huge of course, but he also added seven assists on the day. Moore's quick few three-pointers to open the second half were huge in helping pull away from East Carolina. Down the stretch, SMU went inside to the big men, but it was Moore's game that helped SMU get the win the most after a back-and-forth first half. Moore did all of this in 37 minutes of play.
2. Markus Kennedy
The big guy was back today with a vengence after even he said he took a few games off and in general has struggled. Kennedy had 13 second half points to finish with 19 on 8-of-12 shooting. He missed out on the double-double with just nine rebounds, but getting back on track was more important to him and for SMU's last few games. Kennedy could have had a couple more points as he just missed on a couple shots, but what a day at the office it was for the senior. East Carolina tested Kennedy's ability to step out and guard around the arc, but Kennedy was also a part of shutting down any inside game for the Pirates. Kennedy looked the most explosive he has all season, which is good news for SMU going down the stretch.
SMU's rebounding was the difference today for the Mustangs. The Pirates totally conceded the boards tonight. SMU took advantage with 13 second chance points on their 15 offensive rebounds. The Mustangs totalled 41 with 12 coming from Jordan Tolbert. Outside of Nic Moore, every SMU player had at least three. Ben Moore also added six, but it was Tolbert who grabbed five offensive boards for the Mustangs today, which helped get his 12 points. ECU went small for a lot of the night to try to keep up their pace from beyond the arc, but that killed them on the boards and was a big reason why the Pirates fell today.
1. Three-Point Defense
ECU has a fair amount of shooters and with the lineup the Pirates rolled out, they could score from almost anywhere. SMU was a little slow early in the game with their rotation to defend the three, but even as that improved slightly, ECU still made plenty of threes. Kentrell Barkley and Prince Williams were both 4-of-5 from three-point range. Caleb White also made four three-pointers. Many of these were too open for Larry Brown to be happy with. The one weird thing is that ECU didn't shoot more. The Pirates took 14 three-pointers in the first half and only 10 in the second. SMU's improved rotation helped close out and deny some more of those shots.
2. Sterling Brown
Sterling Brown had some great hustle plays and added three rebounds, but there were still some decisions that he made that were frustrating. The junior picked up four fouls and had five turnovers on his day. Brown didn't do everything bad today, but there were certainly some moments that he'd like back. It wasn't an awful game for Brown, but he wasn't the greatest today.
The Mustangs had 15 turnovers on the afternoon and ECU took advantage with 14 points off those turnovers. Brown led the way with five and Nic had three of his own. The only SMU player that didn't turn the ball over was Jordan Tolbert. Everyone else had at least two except Kennedy, who had one. ECU isn't a great team and a lot of SMU's turnovers were self-inflicted. 15 is too many for Larry Brown's liking, but SMU will clean them up in time for Memphis I'd imagine.