SMU ROMPS TO 4-0
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – SMU ran their record to 4-0 Monday night in Moody Coliseum as they romped past Malone University 81-47. It was the Mustang’s first of four games this week in the Hoops for Hope Classic, and their first 4-0 start in 12 seasons. It was Malone’s first loss in their third game of the year.
Malone scored the first basket of the game, a three point shot from Isiah Elliott. SMU proceeded to take charge of the game by following that basket with a 14-0 run, and led 16-6 with less than six minutes elapsed. The lead ran past to 20 at 28-8 with 9:41 remaining until halftime. The Mustangs’ biggest lead of the half was 25 points at the 6:05 mark, but Malone hit some late three point baskets to cut SMU’s halftime lead to 45-27.
Jalen Jones (10) and Cannen Cunningham (12) led the Ponies first half scoring. The Mustangs starting five did the damage, scoring all but three of the 45 first half points. Elliott knocked down four three-point shots to lead Malone with a dozen. 21 of Malone’s halftime points came from three point shots, as three other Pioneers hit one each.
In the second half, the Mustangs quickly extended the lead back into the 20’s. With six minutes left, the lead was in the 30’s. With three minutes left, the Ponies hit 80 for the game, triggering free eats at Raising Cain’s for fans in attendance. Ryan Manuel and Shawn Williams pushed their scoring total into double digits, ending with 13 each. Jones led all scorers in the game with 20, his third game with at least 20 points. Nick Russell led in rebounds with six as the starting five tallied 25 for the night. Russell also had a game high eight assists out of 20 for the Mustangs, a new game high this season.
After the game, SMU head coach Larry Brown said that Russell was the key to the Mustangs’ performance. “Nick made us execute. Eight assists and no turnovers. He was unselfish. We need that kind of leadership from him and Ryan (Manuel). That was the difference.”
The Hoops for Hope Tournament is an “exempt” tournament. Essentially, SMU by participating this week will get to play four games, but have just two count toward their allotted total for the year. The Mustangs were originally scheduled to play Alcorn State, but the NCAA ruled Alcorn State could not participate. Schools are allowed to play in any one exempt tournament once every four years, and Alcorn State had participated in this tournament two years ago. Consequently, Malone University was substituted for Alcorn State.
SMU will attempt to run their record to 5-0 when they play Ryder Wednesday night at 7:30 in Moody Coliseum, again as part of the Hoops for Hope Classic. This weekend, they travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for the final two games of the Classic. They play Arkansas-Little Rock Saturday, and either South Carolina or Missouri State Sunday, before returning to Moody Coliseum to face Utah on November 28.