Huskies hope for turnaround against Mustangs

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Updated: 1/04 11:09 am

Dallas, TX ( - The SMU Mustangs play their first game in the newly renovated Moody Coliseum, as they welcome the 17th-ranked Connecticut Huskies to town for an American Athletic Conference clash.

Kevin Ollie's Huskies opened up league play with a disappointing 75-71 road loss at Houston on Tuesday. The loss was just the second for UConn, which fell to Stanford on Dec. 18. Still, the team is off to a strong start with 11 victories prior to conference play getting started.

Larry Brown's Mustangs also started AAC play on a down note, falling to Cincinnati last time out, 65-57. The loss halted a five-game win streak for the Mustangs. SMU played its first six games at the Curtis Culwell Center and won all six, entering this game at a strong 10-3 overall.

SMU won the only previous meeting between these two teams, an 80-66 win in 1965.

UConn has had a great deal of offensive success this season, averaging a healthy 76.1 ppg, on .472 shooting. The team's real strength comes from long range, where the Huskies deliver at a .420 rate. All-American candidate Shabazz Napier is the heart-and-soul of the UConn attack. The gifted playmaker leads the team in scoring (16.3 ppg), rebounding (6.5 rpg), assists (5.8 apg) and steals (25). DeAndre Daniels (13.0 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (12.6 ppg) add to the team's depth.

The Huskies trailed by 21 points in the first half, but Napier scored 25 of his team-high 27 points in the second half to give UConn a lead in the last minute, but the visitors were unable to hold on for the victory on the road against Houston. Napier once again delivered across the board with nine rebounds and five assists. Boatright just missed a double-double as well, finishing with 19 points and nine assists. Daniels added 12 points in the losing effort.

The Mustangs were held to their second-lowest scoring output of the season in the loss to Cincinnati last time out. Markus Kennedy was the only Mustang to finish in double figures with 12 points. SMU held the Bearcats to just .365 shooting, but were outscored 23-8 at the free-throw line.

SMU doesn't light up scoreboards at a modest 73.5 ppg, but the team is extremely efficient, shooting .504 from the floor overall, including .413 from behind the arc. The team also enjoys a +9.0 rebounding margin. Nic Moore leads the team in scoring at 13.4 ppg. Kennedy hasn't started a single game this season but ranks second on the team with 10.4 ppg and first in rebounding at 5.6 rpg.

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