SMU Opens Season In Moody Coliseum Against Lamar On Friday Night
The [22/22] SMU Mustangs open the 2014-15 season by hosting Lamar in front of a sellout crowd at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs begin their third season under Head Coach Larry Brown following a 27-10 campaign that ended in the NIT championship game.
SMU is ranked No. 22 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Top 25. The Mustangs were picked to finish second in The American by the league's coaches. [17/15] Connecticut was picked to win the conference. SMU juniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy were unanimous preseason all-conference selections. The Mustangs were picked to win The American by writers from media outlets that include Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Athlon Sports and ESPN.
Last season, the Mustangs won a program record 18 home games (18-1), which included a 12-1 mark inside Moody Coliseum. SMU also established a new home attendance record at 107,412 (was 101,296 in 1984-85). The Mustangs sold out nine of 13 games in Moody Coliseum last season and have already sold out season tickets for the entire 2014-15 season (18 home games). SMU had the fourth-largest increase in NCAA men's basketball attendance in 2013-14 and is second nationally in increased attendance since 2012. In 2013-14, SMU averaged 5,653 fans per home game, an increase of 2,210 over the previous season. The Mustangs are up 3,640 per home game since 2012.
SMU was in the top 25 in four of the last five regular season polls in 2013-14, being ranked for the first time since 1984-85. SMU finished tied for third in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference, going 12-6 with two wins over NCAA Champion Connecticut as well as wins over NCAA Tournament teams Cincinnati and Memphis. SMU's 27 wins were the second-most in program history (28-7 in 1987-88). The Mustangs tied for the third-best single-season turnaround in the nation last year with a 12-win improvement (15-17 in 2012-13).
In 2013-14, the Mustangs finished seventh in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (1st American), holding opponents to 38.5% (sixth in SMU history). The Mustang defense allowed just 62.2 (fifth in SMU history) points per game, 24th in the NCAA (3rd American). SMU held 23 of 37 opponents under 40% shooting, and the Mustangs outrebounded 26 of 37 opponents. The Mustangs' +4.8 rebounding margin was the fourth-best in program history.
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Mustangs Start Season Against Northern Colorado Friday; Host UTEP Sunday
SMU opens the season with two games in three days beginning Friday night in Moody Coliseum against Northern Colorado at 6 p.m. in the first game of a doubleheader with the SMU men's basketball team against Lamar. SMU will then host WNIT runner-up UTEP Sunday at 2 p.m. The Mustangs enter the 2014-15 season with one of the youngest teams in program history with just four returning letterwinners and five freshmen. Destynee Hives-McCray returns to the lineup after playing in just 10 games last year due to an illness, and will be a welcomed boost to the offense, which has to replace 70 percent of points scored last year. Hives-McCray averaged 11.0 points with 7.0 rebounds in the first 10 games. Kiara Perry averaged 7.9 points as a freshman.
SCOUTING NORTHERN COLORADO
Northern Colorado went 14-15 overall last season with a 6-8 record on the road. Head coach Kamie Ethridge will lean heavily on senior Stephanie Lee in her first season after 18 years as an assistant at Kansas State. Lee led the team with 19.0 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the field. The Bears will have to replace two of their top four scorers, including Kim Lockridge, who led the team with 179 rebounds. The Bears averaged 63.1 points per game, while opponents scored 65.6.
UP NEXT - UTEP
The Miners went 29-8 last season, including a five-point win at home against the Mustangs, and advanced to the championship game in the WNIT, losing by two to Rutgers, 56-54. UTEP will have to replace three of its top five scorers from last season's team, which averaged 76.4 points per game, and leading returner Jenzel Nash will sit out the season. Nash was second on the team a year ago with 11.5 points per game. Chrishauna Parker averaged 7.5 points as a junior last season, fourth on the team, and enters the 2014-15 as the top active returner. UTEP shot 40.6 percent from the field, including 31.3 percent from 3-point range, but Kelli Willingham made 55 of UTEP's 218 3-pointers as a senior.
With five freshmen, the most since the 2006-07 season, and the fewest returning letterwinners head coach Rhonda Rompola has ever entered a season with. The Mustangs are the youngest team in The American, matching Memphis with the most freshmen, but the Tigers have six returning letterwinners. SMU has a total of seven active players who weren't playing for the Mustangs a year ago, and of the returning players, only Kiara Perry started more than 10 games, playing in all 32 games with 30 starts. Destynee Hives-McCray started the first 10 games before an illness knocked her out for the rest of the season.
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