AAC action pits Mustangs against Huskies

Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - With each team looking to extend a winning streak, the Connecticut Huskies will hit the road to face the 25th-ranked SMU Mustangs in an American Athletic Conference showdown at Moody Coliseum.

 

The defending national champs have won three games in a row, most recently routing Tulsa at the XL Center on Thursday, 70-45. It bumped the team to 7-4 against conference competition. On the road this season, UConn is just 3-4.

 

SMU moved up into the national rankings this week thanks to impressive play against its AAC opponents. The Mustangs have won two in a row over Tulsa (68-57) and Houston (75-69) to improve to 11-2 in league play. At Moody Coliseum this season, SMU owns a healthy 13-2 record.

 

This is the first of two meetings between UConn and SMU this regular season. The teams have met three times before in history, with SMU winning all of the previous matchups. The two programs clashed twice last season.

 

Tulsa entered Thursday night's clash against Connecticut with just one conference loss - its previous outing against SMU. But the Golden Hurricane hardly showed up in Hartford Thursday, as the Huskies held them to a mere 31.5 percent shooting with a 5-of-20 mark from 3-point range. Meanwhile on the other end, UConn connected on 51 percent of its tries from the floor to cruise to an easy victory. Ryan Boatright netted a team-best 23 points with eight assists and five rebounds in the win. Rodney Purvis chipped in with 17 points, and Daniel Hamilton tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Huskies.

Boatright heads into the weekend leading not only the Huskies, but also the conference in scoring with 18.0 ppg on 43.3 percent shooting. The guard also has recorded 102 assists on the season (his 4.4 apg ranks fourth in the league). Purvis (10.1 ppg), Amida Brimah (10.0 ppg) and Hamilton (10.0 ppg) all contribute to the UConn offense with double-digit scoring this season. Hamilton's 7.1 rpg mark is the best on the squad, and Brimah's 2.8 blocked shots per outing ranks second in the conference. The Huskies net 65.4 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting, and allow a mere 59.7 ppg on 39.2 percent shooting.

SMU used another strong offensive effort to down the struggling Houston Cougars on the road Thursday night. The Mustangs hit on 53.7 percent of their shots from the floor, and held Houston to 40.7 percent shooting. Markus Kennedy netted 17 points off the bench to lead the team, adding in six rebounds in the win. Nic Moore chipped in with 15 points, and Ryan Manuel added 10 points for SMU. Yanick Moreira pulled down a team-best nine rebounds, and Sterling Brown dished out seven assists.

 

Nic Moore continues his dominance this season as the leader of the Mustangs. His 14.6 ppg mark is the best on the squad, while Moreira tallies 11.6 ppg to check in at second on the team. Moore has dished out 135 assists this season to lead the squad, and Moreira's 6.8 rpg is another team high. Kennedy, at 10.9 ppg, is the only other active scorer for the Mustangs in double figures. SMU has shown up defensively as well this season, holding opponents to just 59.2 ppg on 37.8 percent shooting.

 

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