Cincinnati Bearcats at (23) SMU Mustangs (-6, 115.5)
The SMU Mustangs (18-4, 9-1 American) will host their American Conference rivals, the Cincinnati Bearcats (15-6, 6-3 American) at Moody Coliseum tonight (9:00 p.m. Eastern).
SMU got off to a much rougher than expected start this year. The team was ranked No. 22 heading into the season, but lost three of its first five games and fell out of the top-25.
Since losing to Arkansas on November 25, though, the Mustangs have been a different team. They have won 16 of their last 17 games, and trail only 9-0 Tulsa in the American Conference.
The Mustang’s last loss came in early January to the same Bearcats squad they’ll be facing tonight. They have rattled off eight straight wins since that time, including five in a row by at least 11 points.
SMU beat the UCF Knights, 75-56, in their last outing with senior guard Ryan Manuel scoring a season-high 20 points; junior forward Marcus Kennedy added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“He’s made unbelievable progress,” SMU head coach Larry Brown said of Kennedy, who was playing in just his 12th game of the season. “We have four days to prepare for a terrific team and I think Markus will really benefit from that.”
The Bearcats are coming off a 50-46 loss to Eastern Carolina that ended a four-game winning streak. Cincinnati let a seven-point lead slip away with 3:23 on the clock. While no one will accuse the Bearcats – who average just 62.4 PPG – of being an offensive force, the meager 46-point output against the Pirates was a season low.
Cincinnati shot just 35-percent from the floor, and were a woeful 17-percent from three-point range. The Bearcats are anxious to put that performance behind them tonight.
“It’ll be a packed house [in Dallas],” said associate coach Larry Davis. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play in a great environment and get some redemption.”
The Mustangs are six-point home favorites. Southern Methodist is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six and 4-0-1 ATS in its last five at home. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is 2-5 SU in its last seven games on the road. Those trends say take the Mustangs and lay the points.
(Photo credit: John McStravick (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)