Houston (12-13) at SMU (20-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 19, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Moody Coliseum (8,998) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: ESPNews. Home Record: Houston 9-4, SMU 13-0. Away Record: Houston 2-7, SMU 5-5. Neutral Record: Houston 1-2, SMU 2-1. Conference Record: Houston 4-8, SMU 9-4. Series Record: Houston leads, 46-26.
GAME NOTES: The SMU Mustangs will attempt to remain perfect at home on the season when they take on the Houston Cougars in an American Athletic Conference bout at Moody Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Houston has been trending in the wrong direction fast, losing six of its past seven games to slip to 4-8 in the league and under .500 overall (12-13) for the first time all season. The Cougars are just 2-7 on the road, which includes a 73-62 setback at nationally-ranked Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, SMU has been nothing short of outstanding this season, going 20-6 overall, 9-4 in the AAC and 13-0 on its home floor. The Mustangs had been winners of four straight games prior to their disappointing 71-64 loss at Temple on Sunday, which caused them to fall out of the Top 25.
SMU took care of business against Houston back on Jan. 26, 75-68, but the Cougars still hold a 46-26 lead in the all-time series.
The Cougars put up a valiant fight against the first-place Bearcats over the weekend, as they held a lead as late as 6:41 left in the game, but they were promptly put in their place when Cincinnati closed out the contest on an 18-7 run. They put together an impressive offensive performance against one of the nation's top defenses, shooting 53.3 percent from the field, but they lost both the rebounding (27-21) and turnover (13-4) battles and allowed Cincinnati to shoot 50.9 percent. Danrad Knowles put up a team-high 11 points, while Danuel House, TaShawn Thomas and L.J. Rose all scored 10 points.
On the season, Houston has outshot its opponents from the field, 44.9 percent to 43.8 percent, but it still owns a -1.8 scoring margin by living in the red in terms of its rebounding (-1.3) and turnover (-1.2) production. Its lackluster free-throw percentage (.661) doesn't help matters either. Thomas leads the charge from the paint, shooting 60 percent from the floor en route to 16.0 ppg to go with 8.6 rpg, 2.9 bpg and 1.2 spg. House (12.8 ppg) is the only other player in double figures, although Jherrod Stiggers (9.8 ppg) and Rose (8.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) have also been productive.
In one of their most underwhelming performances of the season, the Mustangs trailed last-place Temple by four at the half and could not overtake the Owls in the second stanza en route to the seven-point loss. They managed to outshoot the Owls from the field, 48 percent to 39.6 percent, but they made just two 3-pointers, lost the rebounding battle (38-25) and shot a dreadful 14-of-28 from the free-throw line. Markus Kennedy was a bright spot with 18 points on 8-of-16 from the field, while Nic Moore and Nick Russell poured in 15 and 10 points, respectively.
SMU has rarely had trouble scoring points this season, as it ranks in the top-10 nationally in field goal percentage (.495) on its way to 72.7 ppg. Its outstanding defense has been just as big a reason for its success, as it yields only 61.5 ppg on a lowly 37 percent shooting. Moore is the team's top scorer with 14.1 ppg, having drained 55 3-pointers at a 45.1 percent clip, and he has nearly twice as many assists (121) as he has turnovers (61). Kennedy has been strong in the paint with 12.0 ppg (on 55 percent from the field) and 7.1 ppg and is an excellent defender with 39 steals and 37 blocks. Russell brings 9.0 ppg to the table but on just 39.2 percent from the floor.
SMU will be extra motivated to get back on the winning track after slipping up over the weekend, and it shouldn't have much of an issue dismissing the inconsistent Cougars on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 70, Houston 58
02/19 10:35:59 ET