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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: American Bank Center (8,000) -- Corpus Christi, Texas. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SMU 4-0, Virginia 4-1. Away Record: SMU 0-1, Virginia 0-0. Neutral Record: SMU 1-0, Virginia 1-0. Conference Record: SMU 0-0, Virginia 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers and SMU Mustangs will meet in the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Challenge on Friday evening at the American Bank Center.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers started the season ranked in the Top 25 and despite falling to VCU early on, they have bolstered their standing once again with wins in four straight games. Virginia made light work of Liberty (75-53) and Hampton (69-40) in the first two rounds of this event in Charlottesville.
Larry Brown's Mustangs sport an identical 5-1 record coming into this contest. SMU's lone loss came on the road at Arkansas (89-78), but the team has won three straight games since, with earlier tournament victories over both Arkansas-Pine Bluff (87-61) and Sam Houston State (72-53).
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams. The winner of this game will take on either Missouri State or Texas A&M for the tournament title on Saturday.
The Mustangs have played well at both ends of the floor and are boasting a +15.7 scoring margin. The teams is shooting an impressive .508 from the floor on the year, while limiting the opposition to well under 40 percent (.359). Rebounding has also been a strength with SMU enjoying a +11.8 rebounding margin. Nic Moore and Yanick Moreira are the top offensive weapons on the team, netting 12.8 and 11.7 ppg, respectively.
In the 19-point win over Sam Houston State, SMU shot a solid .479 from the field, Moreira posted a double-double in the win, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Markus Kennedy led the team with 14 points off the bench, while Nick Russell added 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
A defensive-minded team under Bennett, Virginia has once again continued with that gameplan this season, holding opponents to just 48.7 ppg, while dominating on the boards to the tune of a +15.3 rebounding margin. The offensive numbers aren't eye-popping in Charlottesville, but they don't have to be with the defensive pressure the team brings. Virginia is averaging a modest 66.3 ppg, but does so on an efficient .481 shooting. Guards Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon are the top scoring threats at 11.5 and 11.0 ppg, respectively.
In the lopsided win over Hampton, Virginia once again dominated play inside, outrebounding Hampton 42-21. Harris was nearly perfect in the game, finishing 7-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line to put up 20 points. Justin Anderson added 12 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who shot 51.1 percent from the floor in the game.
These two teams are off to fast starts, but the Cavaliers' brand of defense gives opponents problems. SMU will struggle in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 68, SMU 59
11/29 10:42:56 ET