February 06, 2015

Tulsa didn't have much of an answer for Nic Moore last season when SMU swept the season series with a home win that clinched its league title in 22 years.

Now the Mustangs hope to start a march to their first back-to-back conference championships in nearly a half-century with another victory over the Golden Hurricane.

With Moore looking to build on a MVP performance, No. 17 SMU - one of five remaining unbeatens - will try to continue the best start in school history Tuesday night when they open American Athletic Conference play at Tulsa.

The Mustangs wrapped up their first conference title since 1993 when Markus Kennedy had 16 points and Moore added 14 - including several key baskets and free throws down the stretch - in a 67-62 win over the Golden Hurricane on March 8.

Moore also proved to be a handful for Tulsa on Feb. 7, finishing with 23 points, seven assists and two steals in a 68-57 victory in the most recent meeting at the Reynolds Center.

SMU is ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions, but hopes its road back to league supremacy begins in its return to Tulsa. The Mustangs haven't won titles in consecutive years since a three-year run in the Southwest Conference from 1965-67.

The Golden Hurricane, seeking their second league title in three years after winning Conference USA in 2013-14, will likely have defend Moore better. The senior guard has averaged 19.7 points and 6.7 assists over his last three games.

The Las Vegas Classic MVP scored 16 on Wednesday to lead SMU back from a late eight-point deficit for a 70-66 victory over Colorado in the championship game.

''I think it was our poise and character that allowed us to come back,'' said Moore, who had 25 points in a semifinal win over Kent State. ''We just need to get shots.''

It was coach Larry Brown's second game back after serving a nine-game, NCAA-imposed suspension for academic fraud and unethical conduct.

The Mustangs (11-0) lead all AAC teams in shooting (52.4 percent) and 3-point shooting (42.9), and they rank second with 84.0 points per game. Although they didn't make a 3 (0 for 5) on Wednesday for the first time since a 71-65 win at Tulsa on March 6, 2013, they surpassed the 1997-98 team for the best start in school history.

Jordan Tolbert, however, had seven points after averaging 19.8 over his previous four games and Keith Frazer was held to two after putting up 19.0 in his prior three.

The Golden Hurricane (8-4) won for the fourth time in six home games last Tuesday, 90-55 over Northern Arizona. Shaquille Harrison led six players in double figures with 15 points as Tulsa shot 56.5 percent - its highest mark since the season opener.

Harrison averages a team-high 17.9 points, while James Woodward is scoring 16.0 per game. Woodward has been a difficult matchup for SMU, averaging 20.7 points while hitting 17 of 33 (51.5 percent) from 3-point range in three straight defeats.

The Golden Hurricane had won 13 of the 15 previous meetings from 2006-13.

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