Sterling Brown (Photo by Matt Visinsky)

Game Preview: SMU vs. Cincinnati

Demo previews SMU's road AAC test against Cincinnati on Thursday night.

When: Thursday, January 12 at 8 PM C.T.
Where: Fifth Third Arena (Cincinnati, OH)
TV/Radio: ESPN/KAAM 770 AM
Series: SMU trails 3-6
Last Meeting: Cincinnati won 61-54 on March 6, 2016 

Pony Trends 

With an 84-65 win over USF on Saturday, SMU has now won 10 consecutive games and is off to a 4-0 start in conference play. But with the No. 22 Bearcats Thursday night and Connecticut a week later, the next seven days will be a good indicator of where the Mustangs will end up at the end of conference play.

SMU’s defense has seen a surge during its win streak as the Mustangs have opponents to 65 points or less during the streak—allowing just 54.8 points per game. Opponents are also shooting just 37.1 percent over the last ten games.    

Scouting Cincinnati

The Bearcats have a win-streak of their own coming into Thursday’s contest—they’ve won six straight and 10 of their last 11, losing to No. 16 Butler 75-65. With wins over Temple (56-50), Tulane (92-56), and Houston (67-58), Cincinnati is also 3-0 in conference play. The Bearcats have won 17 of their last home games. Coming into the week, the Bearcats were ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.360) and 15th in scoring defense (61.4).   

Cincinnati Players to Watch

F Kyle Washington: Named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll on Monday after posting 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting with nine rebounds and two blocks in the win over Houston. He is among the league leaders in double-doubles (fifth), field goal percentage (sixth), blocks (9th), and scoring (11th). He is averaging 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

G/F Jacob Evans III: Has scored in double figures in 14 of 15 games this season. His 3-point shooting percentage of .435 ranks fifth in the league. He is averaging 15.1 PPG, and 4.1 RPG.

G Troy Caupain: Caupain keeps the Bearcat offense rolling and is averaging 4.6 assists per game (fourth in AAC).  And he distributes the ball without committing a ton of turnovers—his 3.63-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is 11th in the nation and first in the AAC.  He is averaging 10.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG.      

Projected Cincinnati starters:
G Troy Caupain
G Kevin Johnson
G/F Jacob Evans III
F Gary Clark
F Kyle Washington

Projected SMU starters:
G Shake Milton
G Jarrey Foster
G Sterling Brown
F Semi Ojeleye
F Ben Moore

Matchup to Watch

Sterling Brown vs. Jacob Evans: Just about anyone on SMU’s roster could draw the matchup with Evans, as SMU has a ton of size and athleticism. Brown might be tasked with locking down Evans, who is leading his team with 15.1 PPG, but no matter who guards him, it should be fun to watch.    

Keys to the Game

SMU will need to protect the ball and finish its shots when it gets into the paint. Cincinnati is 6.0 blocks per game. SMU has been a monster on the glass all season and has a rebound margin of +13.2. Cincinnati is also strong rebounding team and has a +5.6 margin of its own. If SMU can hold onto the ball, finish at the rim and crash the boards, the result should be in the Mustangs favor.

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