Southern Methodist Mustangs (21-3, 9-3 American) at Connecticut Huskies (18-7, 8-4 American)
8 PM ET, Thursday, February 18, 2016
XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
TV: ESPN2(Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)
SMU Radio: KAAM 770 AM
SMU improved to 21-3 overall with a 69-60 home-win against Gonzaga on Saturday. Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 25 points and 11 assists against just one turnover while playing all 40 minutes.
SMU has won 14 of its last 17 road games, including a 6-2 mark this season. The Mustangs are 18-4 in their last 22 games away from home. SMU went 3-1 in the XL Center last season, falling 81-73 at Connecticut on March 1 during the regular season before winning three games in The American Championship that concluded with a 62-54 victory against UConn on March 15.
The Mustangs are leading The American in 9 of 21 statistical rankings. SMU is in the top 40 of 11 NCAA stat categories, top 25 in 9 areas and top 10 of 7 rankings, however they won’t be seeing any March Madness due to NCAA sanctions.
SMU is No. 21 in the AP Top 25 after a week at No. 16 and reaching as high as No. 8. This is the 13th straight week in the AP Top 25 after receiving votes in the first two polls. This is the third-longest streak at SMU and third-highest total in a season for the Mustangs. SMU spent nine weeks in the top 25 in 2014-15 and four weeks ranked in 2013-14.
SMU leads The American in scoring (79.4), field goal percentage (50.1, 5th NCAA) and 3-point percentage (42.3, 3rd NCAA). SMU has five of the top 11 in the AAC in field goal percentage: Sterling Brown (.609, 1st), Jordan Tolbert (.554, 5th), Ben Moore (.552, 6th), Markus Kennedy (.533, 7th) and Shake Milton (.479, 11th).
The Mustangs have had at least four double-digit scorers in 19 of 24 games (10 of 12 AAC games). Milton is second in The American in 3-point percentage (.432) and Nic Moore is third (.420). The offense is averaging 17.9 assists (1st AAC, 8th NCAA) and has a 1.49 assist-to-turnover ratio (1st AAC, 16th NCAA).
Senior Nic Moore, a Bob Cousy Award Finalist, Naismith Award Candidate and a Wooden Award Candidate, leads SMU in scoring (16.7, 2nd AAC), 3-points field goals (2.7, 1st AAC) and assists (5.2, 1st AAC) with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd AAC). Last week, he scored a season-high 27 points vs. Tulsa and followed with 25 points, 11 assists (1 turnover) and 2 steals in the win vs. Gonzaga.
Through 25 games this season, UConn has held 19 opposing teams to a field goal percentage of under 40.0 percent, including the last 11 games in a row. For the season, UConn has held opponents to a 36.9 field goal percentage, second in the country (through games of Feb. 11).
To find a UConn team that had a better field goal percentage defense, you would have to go back 57 years, to the 1958-59 Huskies, who held opponents to 35.2 percent for the season. UConn is currently holding opponents to a 31.5 field goal percentage from three-point range, its lowest since the 2008-09 Huskies held opponents to 30.4 percent from three-point range. In American Athletic Conference play, UConn is holding opponents to an even lower 35.3 percent overall, which leads the AAC, and 32.9 percent from three-point range.
America’s Bookie has the Huskies a 2½-point home favorite and -145 on the moneyline with the Mustangs paying +125. Keep it locked on the best offshore sportsbook for all your NCAA Basketball action leading up to March Madness.