No. 23 SMU (20-5, 9-4 American Athletic Conference) received 21
points from guard Nic Moore in winning its fourth game in a row and
ninth in its last 10. The last time the Mustangs were ranked in the
Top 25 was on March 12, 1985.
Rutgers (10-15, 4-8) was led by guard Myles Mack's 17 points.
The Scarlet Knights cut the SMU lead to six points at 64-58 with
5:15 remaining but fell victim to a 7-0 run from the Mustangs that
made it 71-50.
Rutgers closed to one point at 41-40 with 14:23 to play, but SMU
forward Markus Kennedy started a 14-2 run with a layup and
conventional three-point play that helped the Mustangs to a 52-42
cushion with 10:52 left. Moore drained three 3-pointers in the
The Mustangs have undergone a transformation under legendary coach
Larry Brown. SMU went more than 10 years without a win over a ranked
team before opening renovated Moody Coliseum by defeating then-No.
17 Connecticut on Jan. 4.
Since then, the Mustangs have posted double-digit wins over Top 25
teams Memphis and Cincinnati, the latter a 76-55 decision on Feb. 8
for their first on-campus victory over a top-10 team since 1967.
"These are all learning experiences for us," Brown said. "I thought
we responded great. Last year, we were in Conference USA and we only
played five guys. We played zone and we really didn't have a bench.
"I knew we would be better this year. We had three really good
transfers, but I didn't know if our record would reflect that
because we were going into a new conference."
Brown compared the SMU makeover with one of the charter schools in
the Big East Conference.
"Georgetown did it," he said. "Great school. Great city. I don't see
why we couldn't do it."
Without an especially big frontcourt, SMU relied on the quickness
and long-range shooting of Moore, a sophomore transfer from Illinois
State. Moore nailed five of his nine 3-pointers, was 6 of 6 from the
free throw line and had five assists.
"He's their catalyst," first-year Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said.
"He's a bulldog. He dictates the tempo. He finds his people in the
paint and he makes his 3's."
Moore's backcourt teammate, Nick Russell, contributed 16 points.
The Mustangs broke a 21-21 tie with 7:48 to go in the first half by
outscoring Rutgers 15-8 to end the half for a 36-29 lead.
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SMU's perimeter defense stifled the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers failed
to knock down any of its six 3-point shots and connected on just 10
of 28 from the floor.
"I thought we had a terrific effort," Jordan said. "We followed our
game plan for the most part, but there was some breakdowns and
Rutgers is 2-6 in its last eight games. Its next two games are
against ranked teams in Louisville and Memphis. It closes conference
play against UConn and Cincinnati, two schools that are also in the
"I see improvement," Jordan said of his team. "It's going to take a
little while to understand the system."
The Scarlet Knights missed their last nine shots from the floor,
five by forward Kadeem Jack, and failed to score a basket in the
final 6:18 of the first half.
Jack responded with 10 points in the second half to finish with 17.
Center Cannen Cunningham scored all of his 10 points in the first
half for SMU.
NOTES: The game was originally to be played Thursday, but a
snowstorm that walloped the East Coast forced the postponement to
Friday. ... SMU travels down the New Jersey Turnpike for a Sunday
meeting with Temple in Philadelphia. ... SMU coach Larry Brown is
the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history with 1,098 victories. He
is the only head coach to win both an NCAA title (Kansas, 1988) and
an NBA championship (Detroit Pistons, 2004). ... SMU is one of five
teams in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in the AP Top 25,
joining Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut and Cincinnati. ... The
Mustangs are first in the nation in scoring margin (20.0) and second
in field goal percentage defense (36.7). ... Rutgers G Myles Mack
leads the AAC in free throw percentage (.941). ... A moment of
silence was observed before the game for former Rutgers player Keith
Hughes, who died Feb. 8. The 45-year-old Hughes was the 1990-91
Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year.
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