by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, November 24th, 2013

BY:  Dic Humphrey

GARLAND, Texas – SMU ran their record to 4-1 with a hard fought 87-61 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-3) Sunday afternoon at the Curtis Culwell Center.  The Mustangs attacked the Golden Lions’ zone defense by getting the ball inside, scoring 52 points in the paint and 20 more at the free throw line, points that were largely created by the fouls that the post men attracted under the basket.  A nip and tuck first half turned into an SMU rout in the second five minutes of the second half that allowed walk-ons to play late in the game.

SMU struggled early as Pine Bluff scored first and hit threes to get their largest lead of the game at 13-8 less than seven minutes into the game.  SMU got moving by working the ball into the post men and took the lead for good at 25-24 with 6:00 left in the half.  They finally went ahead by double digits with a minute remaining in the first stanza (39-28) and finished with a 41-31 lead at halftime.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff started the second half strong with a pair of three pointers in the first minute to cut the SMU lead to four and later got the lead down to three.  SMU scrambled back with the same formula – working the ball in low, and finally re-claimed a double digit lead at the 12:59 mark, 53-43.

From there, the Mustangs needed just a bit more than five minutes to push the lead to 20.  Again, it was the big men that led the charge.  The Mustangs were led in scoring on the day by post men Yanick Moreira (19), Cannen Cunningham (15) and Markus Kennedy (12).  Point Guard Nic Moore was also a double digit scorer with 10 in the blowout win.  The Mustangs out-rebounded the Lions 38-16 and have won the rebound battle in all five games, as the Mustangs have at least five big men that Brown is trying to manage minutes for.

“We got the ball inside pretty good,” Coach Larry Brown said afterward.  “They (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) were really under-sized.  I thought other than the first few minutes of the game and the start of the second half, we played great.”

Brown always emphasizes passing when he talks basketball.  Sunday afternoon, the Mustangs tallied 20 assists; the third time in five games to reach 20 assists.  Point guard Nic Moore led with six, but Keith Frazier was right behind at five, and seven different Mustangs had at least one assist.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff also had four players with double digit tallies.  Davon Haynes led with 18, Daniel Broughton 13, Ghiavonni Robinson (12), and Tevin Hammond (10) were the others; but the Golden Lions got just four points off the bench to 45 for SMU.

The Mustangs have now scored more than 80 points three times in five games and are averaging 80.8 per game.  11 different players scored Sunday, including walk-on Jonathan Wilfong.

In talking about the progress of his team, Brown said, “We’re playing a lot of games quickly.  I’m not always happy about that.  I think you get better in practice.”  He was pleased with all three of his freshmen.  The highly touted Frazier played 23 minutes, third most of any SMU player and the most he has played in any game.  He scored seven points, which included one of just three three-point shots that the Mustangs made in the game.  He also had four rebounds to go with his five assists.  Brown noted about Frazier’s playing time, “Keith’s going to get more (minutes).  He can really pass the ball.  Our freshmen are great.  They have high (basketball) I. Q.’s.”

Sunday’s game was the first of four in the Corpus Christi Challenge.  Sunday’s game and the next one Tuesday night at the Culwell Center against Sam Houston State are the “Host Rounds”.  The action moves to Corpus Christi this weekend where SMU will play Virginia on Friday and either Texas A&M or Missouri State on Saturday.  Virginia is getting votes in both major polls



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