1. #23 SMU Mustangs (19-5, 8-3 AAC)
It’s time to pony up, if you haven’t already. It’s time to party like it’s 1985, the last time this program was ranked until this week. It’s time to welcome back SMU to college hoops relevance. I thought the Mustangs had a great chance of knocking off then #7 Cincinnati at home. I did not expect a 76-55 defensive massacre that featured a basketball version of The Steel Curtain.
Seriously, it was that bad for the Bearcats. They had more turnovers (19) than field goals made (17). Their best player, Sean Kilpatrick, tallied 22 points, but was only 5-18 from the field and 3-12 from three-point range. With Kilpatrick out of rhythm, Coach Mick Cronin needed the next guy to step up. That didn’t happen. The rest of the team combined to go 1-12 from three-point range and added only 33 more points.
SMU, however, displayed another one of their strengths: depth. Markus Kennedy had an off night with only four points on two made field goals. A bad game from one of your best players usually spells trouble for your team against a top-10 opponent. Not the Ponies, though. The Mustang bench shot over 63% from field, led by junior center Cannen Cunningham (11 points, 13 minutes played) and freshman forward Ben Moore (15 points, 21 minutes played). More balanced scoring efforts like this one could have Larry Brown’s guys dancing for a while come March.
Up Next: 2/13 @Rutgers, 2/16@Temple