SMU (5-0) vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (3-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center (300)
-- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: SMU 3-0, UALR 3-0.
Away Record: SMU 2-0, UALR 0-2. Neutral Record: SMU 0-0, UALR 0-0. Conference
Record: SMU 0-0, UALR 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The semifinals of the Hoops for Hope Classic will take place in
Puerto Vallarta on Saturday night as the SMU Mustangs take on the Arkansas-
Little Rock Trojans.
The winner will go on to face either South Carolina or Missouri State in the
championship round on Sunday, while the losers will play one another in the
Larry Brown's return to college basketball has been an amazing success so far
for SMU as it is off to its first 5-0 start to a season since it began the
1997-98 campaign 10-0. The Mustangs tuned up for their trip to Mexico with a
pair of wins over Malone (81-47) and Rider (83-70) in the opening rounds at
After claiming its opener at home over Tennessee-Martin, 84-68, UALR dropped a
pair of difficult road games to Louisiana Tech (70-52) and Ole Miss (92-52).
The Trojans bounced back nicely however, qualifying for the semifinals with
wins over Milwaukee (59-43) and Jacksonville (78-56) earlier this week.
The teams have never played each other prior to the 2010-11 season, but this
marks the third year in a row they will play one another, with the teams
splitting the first two meetings.
SMU has been very efficient from the floor through five games this season,
making good on more than 49 percent of its shots overall. It has also been
busy from the foul line, making an incredible 28.2 trips to the stripe per
game, while knocking down 78.7 percent of its free throws. The Mustangs put on
a clinic offensively in their latest game against Rider, making 24-of-42 field
goal attempts (including 8-of-11 from three-point range) and 27-of-34 free
throws en route to a double-digit victory. Ryan Manuel put together a double-
double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Cannen Cunningham scored 20
points on 8-of-10 from the field. Jalen Jones added 15 points, and he's been
the team's top performer so far, leading the team in scoring (18.2 ppg) and
rebounding (7.6 rpg). Manuel (16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has also been fantastic in
the early going, as has Nick Russell (15.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg), who also dishes out
a team-high 4.4 apg.
It hasn't been quite the offensive explosion for UALR, which shoots just 40.1
percent from the floor through five games for 65 ppg. The Trojans managed to
put together one of their best efforts of the year against Jacksonville
however the last time out, making 29-of-64 from the floor while holding their
opponent to just 35.1 percent from the field. John Gillon paced four teammates
in double figures with 16 points and four assists, while Will Neighbour scored
15 points, Taggart Lockhart came off the bench to net 14 points, and James
White tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Gillon is the
team's leading scorer with 13.6 ppg thanks in large part to a nearly perfect
start from the free throw line (19-of-21). Neighbour (11.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and
White (10.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) also contribute on a consistent basis.
UALR has been impressive in spurts but ultimately it has been too inconsistent
to count on from a game-to-game basis, which has not been a problem for SMU.
Brown appears to have his team on the fast track to a quick turnaround in
2012-13, and it'll continue that success by advancing to the championship
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 75, Arkansas-Little Rock 62
11/24 10:33:13 ET