SMU (12-4) at UCF (9-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 18, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: CFE Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida.
Television: ESPNews. Home Record: SMU 8-0, UCF 8-3. Away Record: SMU 2-3,
UCF 3-4. Neutral Record: SMU 2-1, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: SMU 2-2, UCF
4-2. Series Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: The SMU Mustangs will finally collide with a familiar foe in
league action, as they take on the UCF Knights in an American Athletic
Conference showdown at CFE Arena.
Both of these teams made the move to the brand new AAC this season, after
competing against each other in Conference USA for the previous eight years.
In that time, UCF won six of nine meetings, but it had three of those wins
vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
SMU has had an uneven beginning to its run in the AAC, with a 2-2 mark. The
Mustangs defeated South Florida at home on Wednesday, 71-54, for their second
league win, which also improved them to 12-4 overall. With just three more
wins they will match their total from all of last season. Up next is a non-
league bout with Hofstra.
UCF has had less success in its first four conference clashes, losing all but
one. The Knights are returning from a two-game road trip in which they dropped
decisions to Connecticut (84-61) and Rutgers (85-75). Up next for the 9-6
squad is a trip to face 19th-ranked Cincinnati.
SMU beat USF on the interior to push itself to victory on Wednesday night. The
Mustangs claimed a 42-24 edge in scoring in the paint, and also held a 37-31
advantage in rebounds. They shot 50.9 percent from the floor and received a
game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds from Markus Kennedy.
In the win, the Mustangs also showed off their defensive prowess by holding
the Bulls to 32.1 percent shooting. Defensive pressure has been the key for
Larry Brown's squad this season, as SMU is third in the nation in opponent
field goal percentage (.363) and 21st in scoring defense (61.8 ppg). Heading
up the offensive effort for the unit are Nic Moore (!3.2 ppg, 4.7 apg) and
Kennedy (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg), who are the only double-digit scorers on the
roster. Moore is also a skilled passer, ranking third in the league in
assists, while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.
UCF dug itself a hole against Rutgers and could never climb out, as it shot
just 27.3 percent from the floor in the first half. The Knights connected on
36.1 percent from the floor for the game, although they did have a hefty edge
on the glass (48-35).
Winning the battle on the boards is nothing new for the Knights, who lead the
AAC and rank 15th nationally in rebounding (40.9 rpg). They are also the
third-highest scoring team in the conference (77.3 ppg). Isaiah Sykes (16.1
ppg, 6.3 rpg 3.5 apg) is the unit's best scoring option. He showed off his
ability to light up the scoreboard in the loss to Rutgers, pouring in a
season-high 29 points, his fifth 20-point effort of the campaign. Three other
players are averaging in double figures for the Knights, with Calvin Newell
(13.1 ppg), Tristan Spurlock (11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Kasey Wilson (10.9 ppg,
5.9 rpg) all getting into the mix.
Sykes is one of the best players in the AAC. However, the Mustangs are the
better all-around team and they should be able to pull out a hard-fought road
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 72, UCF 68
01/18 10:20:55 ET
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