Cincinnati-SMU Preview

Having already overcome its share of adversity, SMU is having to deal with more after the player at the center of its NCAA infractions left the program.

Without fourth-leading scorer Keith Frazier, the 15th-ranked Mustangs hope to stay focused as they try to continue the best start in school history Thursday night against a Cincinnati team that was the last visitor to win at Moody Coliseum.

SMU rolled to nine straight victories by an average of 24.5 points while coach Larry Brown served an NCAA-imposed suspension for academic fraud and unethical conduct.

In Brown's first home game, the Mustangs remained one of three unbeaten Division I teams despite only using seven players in a 72-58 home win over South Florida on Saturday.

Frazier, the team's second-highest scoring guard at 11.9 per game, did not play after he told Brown he was leaving the team to deal with a personal issue. It has since been reported that the junior guard is stepping away because he's feeling blamed for the infractions that led to the team's postseason ineligibility this season.

The NCAA ruled that a secretary had done Frazier's coursework in the summer of 2013, and Brown was suspended for withholding information and lying when first questioned.

"We're going to support him,'' Brown said after Saturday's victory.

Short-handed SMU (13-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) looks to regroup offensively as it tries to extend its longest winning streak since a 20-game run in 1955-56. Reigning AAC Player of the Year Nic Moore had 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting Saturday after averaging 20.5 and hitting 11 of 25 from 3-point range in his prior four.

"If you don't guard him, he's going to shoot it," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin told the team's official website. "And then the second thing is he's a very smart player. If you're out of position, he's going to draw the foul and he's an excellent free throw shooter."

The Mustangs shot a season-low 41.1 percent after they had been leading all AAC teams with a 51.9 field-goal percentage. They also ranked fourth nationally in 3-point percentage at 44.9 before making only 6 of 23 against the Bulls.

Defense has been a key to Cincinnati's success. The Bearcats (11-4, 1-1) are allowing 57 points per game on 35 percent shooting in wins but 75.3 points and a 45.4 mark in losses.

They spent six weeks in the Top 25 before getting knocked out this week despite snapping a two-game losing streak by holding Tulsa to a season-low 33.3 percent shooting - including 4 of 21 from beyond the arc - in Saturday's 76-57 home win.

Farad Cobb led the way with 21 points while hitting 5 of 7 from 3-point range. The senior guard has averaged 15.2 points and made 17 of 31 from 3 in his last five games.

The Bearcats hope to hold their own on the boards as they rank second in the conference with a plus-7.4 rebounding margin. SMU is second nationally at plus-13.7.

Cincinnati is one of only three teams to win in the Mustangs' 45 games at Moody since the start of the 2013-14 season. Cobb and Troy Caupain had 14 points apiece in a 62-54 win at SMU on Feb. 5 after Cobb scored 18 in a 56-50 home victory Jan. 3.

Moore totaled just 19 points on 4-of-19 shooting against the Bearcats, who have won three of four meetings since the AAC debuted in 2013-14.

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