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The Scouting Report: SMU Mustangs

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Larry Brown's squad has won 13 of their last 14 and 21 of their last 23.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 23-5, 14-2 AAC
Head Coach: Larry Brown

AP: 21
USA Today: 21

Kenpom: 18
RPI: 17
BPI: 25

In SMU's first game against the Huskies on February 14th, the Mustangs erased an early 10-3 deficit and finished the game in dominant fashion, ending in a 73-55 win at Moody Coliseum. SMU shot 48.1% from the field while holding UConn to just 34.0% shooting and 7-25 from behind the arc. Four Mustangs finished in double figures as Yanick Moreira, Sterling Brown, and Markus Kennedy each scored 13 points while Nic Moore added 10.

Since then, the Mustangs have played two games, beating Temple 67-58 at home before going on the road and defeating Memphis 66-57.  In the win over the Owls, Moore led the way with 18 points as SMU shot 48.8% from the field.  Against the Tigers, the Mustangs pulled away late as Moore led the way again, this time finishing with 16 points and 5 assists.

There will be no question this year of whether the Mustangs will make the NCAA Tournament or not as they have really hit their stride, winning 13 of their last 14 and 21 of their last 23.

While SMU ranks just 124th in PPG at 69.5, they rank 33rd in Kenpom's adjusted offensive efficiency. The Mustangs rank 14th in the nation in APG at 15.9 while ranking 9th in the nation in field goal percentage at 48.7%. SMU's defense has been solid all year as well, ranking 40th in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency and 20th in the nation in points allowed at 59.0 PPG.

Larry Brown now goes eight deep with his rotation after three-point specialist Keith Frazier was dismissed from the team and Justin Martin unexpectedly decided to go pro.  While SMU ranks in the top-75 in three-point shooting at 37.1%, they only have two players with over 50 three-point attempts.  Ben Emelogu is 15-55 on the year while Moore is 64-143.

Key Players

#11 Nic Moore, Junior, Guard (5-9, 170): The team's unquestioned leader is averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 2.3 RPG in 33.7 MPG. Moore is a very good shooter, going 45.6% from the field and 44.8% from behind the arc. Despite being one of the smaller guards in the conference and in the country, he has the ability to set up teammates while being extremely effective off the dribble. Larry Brown wants him to be a little more careful with the ball as he is averaging 2.8 turnovers per game. In conference play, Moore is averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.0 APG while shooting and 43.7% from three. He scored 10 points on 3-9 shooting while dishing out 6 assists in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#5 Markus Kennedy, Junior, Forward (6-9, 245): Had to sit out the first semester due to eligibility issues but is averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.8 RPG while shooting 55.1% from the field.  Brown calls him the team's most talented player but he just has to be more consistent.  If he brought the same drive and passion every game, he could be playing in the NBA next year.  Kennedy has a big-time frame with good hands and can bang inside with the best big men in the country.  He is averaging 11.4 PPG and 6.1 RPG in conference play while shooting 56.3% from the field.  Kennedy scored 13 points on 5-10 shooting while pulling down 8 rebounds in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#2 Yanick Moreira, Senior, Center (6-11, 220): Averaging 11.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.3 BPG while shooting 56.7% from the field.  Moreira battled knee injuries for most of last season, but spent the summer playing with the Angolan National Team in the FIBA World Championships.  In the tournament, the 6-foot-11 center was a beast down low, averaging 17.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG.  Moreira is a very good rebounder and shot blocker while also having the ability to score close to the hoop.  He has stepped up nicely throughout the whole season, especially early on when Kennedy was dealing with his eligibility issues.  Moreira is averaging 11.0 PPG and 6.5 RPG on 53.4% shooting in conference play.  He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#00 Ben Moore, Sophomore, Forward (6-8, 205): Averaging 7.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.0 BPG this season while shooting 45.1% from the field.  Moore is a very versatile offensive player and Brown wants him bringing the ball up the court in transition, similar to the way Kevin Ollie wants Daniel Hamilton pushing the ball in the open court.  Moore can go to the hoop and post up smaller defenders while also being able to play on the perimeter.  He is averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG in conference play.  Moore finished with just 3 points in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#1 Ryan Manuel, Senior, Guard (6-4, 185): Senior who has been through a lot with this program.  Manuel has been a do-it-all guard for Brown averaging 6.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 28.0 MPG.  He is a very good defender and can be good off the dribble while being able to finish at the rim.  Brown has worked with a lot in his time at SMU, developing him into a player who can stay on the floor and contribute in different ways.  Manuel has played over 30 minutes in all but two games in conference and is averaging 7.7 PPG on 53.4% shooting while also pulling down 3.3 RPG and dishing out 2.4 APG.  He scored 6 points in the win over UConn earlier this season.

#15 Cannen Cunningham, Senior, Center (6-10, 225): Averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG while shooting 57.6% from the field.  Cunningham has been a stud of late, averaging 10.5 PPG on 27-44 shooting in the last six games.  He is a good athlete who provides depth in the front-court who can also stretch the defense by playing on the perimeter.  The 6-foot-10 big man seems a high basketball IQ and brings the ability to shoot it, handle it, and block shots, but needs to be more consistent.  Cunningham is averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.1 RPG while shooting an impressive 61.8% in conference play.  He finished with 9 points in the win over UConn earlier this season.

SMU is coached by the legendary Larry Brown who is in his third season with the team where he has compiled a record of 55-30, including a trip to the NIT Championship last season.  Brown has spent several years at both the professional and collegiate level, coaching in the ABA and NBA for a total of 31 seasons.  He amassed over 1,000 wins at the pro level, coaching the Nuggets, Nets, Spurs, Clippers, Pacers, 76ers, Pistons, Knicks, and Bobcats.  Brown won an NBA Championship with Rip Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons in 2003-04.

The 74 year old also coached at Kansas for five seasons during the 1980s, making the NCAA Tournament every year including winning the National Championship in 1987-1988 with Danny Manning.  Brown also coached at UCLA for 2 seasons from 1979-1981.  His overall college record is 232-91.  Larry Brown is the only head coach to win an NBA Championship and an NCAA Championship.