SMU Preview – Battle of the Larry’s

Tomorrow UC (9-3) gets to open up conference play in the American at home against the SMU Mustangs (10-3).  The game tips at 11 am on ESPN2 so don’t stay out too late tonight!  The Bearcats will continue their journey for the rest of the year without head coach Mick Cronin. However, ninth-year associate head coach Larry Davis has done an excellent job since stepping into Mick’s large “coaching” shoes (smaller actual shoes).

I hope UC can sellout Fifth Third Arena for what is sure to be an electric environment and hard-fought contest against Larry Brown’s team.  As part of a holiday special, lower-level tickets for the SMU game, as well as the January 6th ECU game, are on sale for just $15!

SMU At A Glance:  SMU began league play by beating USF 83-49 on Wednesday, which was the Stangs’ 8th straight win. SMU was tabbed in the stupid and pointless fortune telling preseason polls to finish 2nd in the conference while Cincinnati was selected 4th.  Cincinnati leads the all-time series against SMU 3-2, including winning all three at Fifth Third Arena. The two teams split the games last year.

Key Players:  #11 junior guard Nic Moore leads SMU, averaging 15 points and is on fire from beyond the arc (24 of 53). He certainly fills up the stat sheets in the AAC, ranking 1st in free-throw shooting (91%), 2nd in assists (5 per game), 3rd in three-point shooting (45%), and 5th in steals (2 per game).

#2 senior center Yanick Moreira also wreaks havoc in the paint, averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and shoots the ball at 60% from the field.

Stats, Stats, Stats:  SMU is 1st in the AAC in scoring offense (72), scoring margin (11), free-throw shooting (74%), field-goal shooting (48%), rebounding margin (8), and assists (15). The Stangs are also 2nd in the American in field-goal percentage defense (37%), three-point shooting (36%), and assist-to-turnover ratio (1-to-1).

Which Larry Wins?  I am hopeful this game goes more the way of San Diego State and NC State, rather than VCU.  The way SMU shoots the ball they certainly can put it in the net like VCU, but I look for UC’s stout defense to continue to assert itself.  The Bearcats must stop the 3-pointer and control the rebounding margin.  Cincinnati is holding opponents to 55 points per game.  That’s good for 11th in the country.  Something has to give between the AAC’s best offensive team and the best defensive team.  Ellis, Clark, and DeBerry need to rise and shine and be the best big men on the floor tomorrow morning.  I pray UC can shoot like they did against the Wolfpack.

Our prediction: Uglier than SMU prefers.  Bearcats win 60-55.

For a link to today’s press conference for Larry Davis, click here.  Go Bearcats!

By Andy Smith