Men's Basketball: SMU dominates UConn in Dallas, tournament in jeopardy

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) claps after an NCAA college basketball game against UConn Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Dallas. SMU won 80-54. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

With one game left in the regular season, UConn is in extreme danger of missing the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year.

SMU dominated UConn Thursday night in almost every category. The Mustangs beat the Huskies 80-54 to send UConn to double-digits losses.

Sterling Brown led all scorers with 20 points (9 of 11). Senior Nic Moore, playing in his last home game, scored 16 points and had four assists. Jordan Tolbert scored 14 points and seven rebounds.

As a team, SMU (25-4, 13-4 the American) shot 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range. UConn finished shooting 34 percent.

The Mustangs won the rebounding battle (36-30), turnover margin (9-17), bench points (18-15) and points in the paint (42-14).

Sterling Gibbs led the Huskies in scoring with 20 points (4 of 10 from three). Daniel Hamilton scored 12 points and had five rebounds. Those were the only players to score in double figures for UConn. Shonn Miller and Amida Brimah combined for seven points and seven rebounds.

SMU led by 30 at one point, but they really ran away from UConn late in the first half. The Mustangs ended the half on a 20-4 run to take a 16-point lead into the break.

UConn (20-10, 10-7 the American) turned the ball over on its first three possessions without taking a shot. Rodney Purvis put the Huskies on the board with a three-pointer 3:13 into the game.

Both teams started slow from the field. UConn started 2 of 5 and SMU started 2 of 7 at first media timeout.

SMU started to get easy buckets in the lane. Twelve of SMU’s first 14 points came inside the paint. Tolbert led the Mustangs with six early points. While SMU was getting easy scores in the lane, UConn was settling for outside shots. Six of the Huskies first 10 shots came from behind the three-point line.

UConn went on a scoreless drought of three minutes and 10 seconds before Gibbs made two free throws to cut SMU’s lead to 13-14. The Mustangs went on a 10-0 to take a 10-point lead. Daniel Hamilton made two free throws to end the run. UConn went 4:12 without scoring.

Tolbert finished an alley-oop off a pass from Jarrey Foster puts SMU up 12 with a little over two minutes left. Ben Moore made a three to put SMU up 33-18 and then Nic Moore converted on and and-one to put the Mustangs up 16.

UConn shot 26 percent (6 of 23) in the first half and SMU went on a 20-4 run to end the half. The Mustangs led 36-20.

The Huskies had 10 turnovers in the first half. SMU dominated inside of the paint in the first half, scoring 20 points inside the lane.

Miller and Brimah combined for four points and three rebounds in the first half.

SMU outscored UConn 44-34 in the second half. Two quick scores to start the second half and SMU was up by 20 points, a 24-4 run spanning back to the first half.

Purvis scored six straight points for the Huskies to cut the lead to 14, but that was as close as UConn would get. SMU had four turnovers in the first six minutes of the half.

SMU will close out its season on Sunday against Cincinnati. The Mustangs will not participate in the conference tournament or NCAA tournament due to a ban.

UConn will host Central Florida on Sunday for the team’s Senior Day, in a game that the Huskies must win if they want any chance at getting in the NCAA tournament.


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @Matt_Zamp.