Mustangs set sights on Bearcats in AAC action

Dallas, TX ( - The 23rd-ranked SMU Mustangs will look to avenge an earlier loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats as the two sides clash in an American Athletic Conference matchup Thursday at Moody Coliseum.


SMU comes into the contest on an eight-game win streak, having extended the streak with a 75-56 victory over UCF on Saturday. The Mustangs are 9-1 in AAC play this season, and boast a 13-1 mark on their home court.


Cincinnati saw a four-game win streak come to an end on Sunday against East Carolina, 50-46. The Bearcats, who are 6-3 against conference competition, are also just 2-4 in road games.


SMU will be looking for revenge against Cincinnati, as the Bearcats earned a 56-50 victory over the Mustangs on Jan. 3 in Ohio. The win extended Cincinnati's all-time series lead over SMU to 4-2, after the two programs split the season series a year ago.


The Cincinnati offense was dormant against East Carolina on Sunday. The Bearcats connected on just 35.6 percent of their shot attempts from the floor in the four-point loss, and hit just 3-of-18 from 3-point range. Octavius Ellis did everything he could to pull out a win for the Bearcats, netting 14 points with 14 rebounds for the double-double. Farad Cobb chipped in with 13 points in the defeat, as the Bearcats held the Pirates to under 40 percent shooting from the floor, but still couldn't get the offense needed to nab a victory.

Troy Caupain netted only four points after coming off the bench for Cincinnati against East Carolina, but the guard still averages a team-leading 10.1 ppg this season, representing the only Bearcat in double figures. His 75 assists are also the most on the squad. Ellis grabs 7.1 rpg for Cincinnati, checking in just behind Gary Clark's team-leading 7.3 rpg mark. The Bearcats aren't known for their offense this season, averaging just 62.4 ppg (last in the AAC rankings), but the team is holding opponents to a league-low 54.5 ppg on just 38.1 percent shooting.

SMU was able to thrash UCF on Saturday in a strong offensive effort for the Mustangs in Dallas. SMU connected on 59.2 percent of its shot attempts in the game, and held the Knights to just 35.8 percent shooting from the floor. UCF never led in the contest as Ryan Manuel's 20-point effort made sure the Mustangs stayed ahead for the duration of the game. Markus Kennedy added in a double-double for SMU with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Yanick Moreira chipped in with 12 points and six boards. Nic Moore was very close to a double-double of his own, as the guard netted eight points and dished out a team-best 10 assists in the lopsided win.


Moore paces SMU's league-leading offense by averaging 14.5 ppg, adding in a team-high and conference-best 5.4 apg. Moreira contributes 11.9 ppg for the Mustangs, and is grabbing a team-high 6.6 rpg. Kennedy rounds out a trio of double-digit scorers this season with 11.5 ppg. The Mustangs, who average 70.1 ppg this season to lead the AAC in scoring offense, could be boosted even more if Keith Frazier (10.5 ppg) wasn't out for academic reasons. The Mustangs sit right behind Cincinnati in the league rankings when it comes to scoring defense, allowing opponents to net just 58.8 ppg.


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