The UConn men’s basketball team travels to Dallas, Texas for their penultimate regular season game of the season to take on No. 24 SMU.
The Huskies (20-9, 10-6 the American) are coming off a dispiriting loss against Houston in their last time out. Despite a 20-point performance from sophomore forward Daniel Hamilton, UConn gave up a season-high 51.9 shooting percentage in the 75-68 loss at Gampel Pavilion.
This will be the second meeting of the season between UConn and SMU (24-4, 12-4 the American). The Huskies got the better of the Mustangs in their first matchup at the XL Center, 68-62. Amida Brimah had perhaps the best game of his career, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
The key in slowing down the Mustangs starts and ends with their senior guard Nic Moore. Moore leads the team in scoring at 16.1 ppg. UConn did a solid job on him in the first game, holding him to 14 points on 6 of 14 shooting.
SMU is entering on a three-game win streak and has won four of its last five. The Mustangs have four players averaging double figures, Moore, forward Ben Moore (12.0 ppg), forward Jordan Tolbert (11.6 ppg) and guard Shake Milton (10.9 ppg).
UConn and SMU has developed into quite a rivalry since the formation of the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs hold a 5-2 advantage in the all-time series. The Huskies have seemed to turn up the heat, though. Tuesday morning, an advertisement ran in the Dallas Morning News. It read, “This ain’t our first rodeo,” over a picture of the school’s many national championship trophies.
The Hartford Courant reported that the ad cost $11,000.
UConn has historically been successful in the state of Texas. Three of their four national championships have come in the Lone Star State; 2004 in San Antonio, 2011 in Houston and 2014 in Dallas.
Thursday’s contest is an important one for the Huskies’ postseason future. They sit in sixth place in The American. They are locked in for a first-round bye in the conference tournament, partially due to SMU’s postseason ban. However, a loss to SMU will have a negative impact on the Huskies national tournament seeding. Most “bracketologists” have UConn as a 10 or 11 seed. Going 2-0 against SMU would prove that the Huskies have the chops to be a higher seed.
Tip off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. at the Moody Center in Dallas. Viewers can find the game on ESPN2.