Matt Visinsky

Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. Connecticut American Athletic Conference Basketball

SMU sent seniors Nic Moore, Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy out with a win with an 80-54 victory over UConn Thursday night at Moody Coliseum.

How it Happened

SMU's defense played an important role early and made up for its 9-for-23 shooting start. The Mustangs forced 10 first-half turnovers, didn't allow a basket until the 6:48 mark and held the Huskies scorelss for a separate 4:10 stretch later in the half. In that 4:10 UConn scoreless stretch, SMU used a 10-0 run to build a 26-16 lead with four minutes left in the first half and took a 36-20 lead into halfitme. Sterling Brown scored the first four points of the second half to give SMU a quick 20-point lead. The Mustangs' lead swelled to as large as 30 in the second half, with Nic Moore's 3-pointer with 4:10 left. SMU didn't allow UConn center Amida Brimah to have a major impact on either end of the floor. He finished with one point, four rebounds and only two blocks. Sterling Brown led SMU in scoring, with 20 points. It is his second-highest total of his career, behind a career-best 23 on Dec. 17 of this season.

What it Means

SMU wasn't going to let its trendsetting seniors leave Moody with a loss. It blew out UConn at home for the second straight year. After Brimah helped hold Tolbert and Markus Kennedy to 5-of-17 shooting in the first matchup, the pair totaled 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Kennedy also added nine assists. SMU is still tied for first in the conference after the win. Temple beat Memphis earlier Thursday, so the two teams will remain tied until each one's final game on Sunday. Temple travels to Tulane on Sunday.

Player of the Game

Nic Moore. He made a lot of plays that don't appear in the box score, especially on defense. Early on, he took a charge, batted down a pass on the perimter by getting his hands up and nearly had a steal of Jalen Adams. Offensively, Moore finished with 16 points and four assists. He didn't hit his first 3-pointer until 8:22 in the second half, but he added two steals.

Side Note

Nic Moore became the second player in SMU history with 500 career assists with his pass to Markus Kennedy for dunk in the first half.

What's Next

SMU's final game of the season is Sunday at Cincinnati. It tips off at 11 a.m. CT.

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