SMU head coach Larry Brown calls to his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Memphis, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)
Karen Pulfer Focht
February 26, 2015

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Once SMU figured out how to attack Memphis' box-and-one defense, the No. 21 Mustangs were able to pull away in the second half.

Nic Moore, the target of the single defender, scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 20 minutes and the Mustangs beat Memphis 66-57 on Thursday night.

''The second half, we did a better job of recognizing what they were in,'' coach Larry Brown said after his Mustangs won their fifth straight. ''They did a lot of things to take Nic out of the game. Five assists, no turnovers, made big shots He was great.''

Moore's 3-pointer with 3:27 left capped a 15-4 run for the Mustangs (23-5, 14-2 American Athletic Conference), breaking open a 48-all game near the midway point of the second half. Ryan Manuel and Yanick Moreira added 11 points each to help the Mustangs win their 21st in 23 games. SMU has won seven straight road games after opening 1-3..

''It's great. We take it day-by-day and practice-by-practice and try to give it our all for the games,'' Moore said of the run away from home.

Shaq Goodwin led Memphis (17-11, 9-6) with 17 points and seven rebounds. Nick King added 14 points, connecting on five of seven shots - including both from outside the arc.

The loss snapped Memphis' winning streak at three games. Meanwhile, the Mustangs grabbed the top spot in the conference, a half-game ahead of Tulsa.

''SMU is the best team in the league, there's no question about that,'' Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. ''We had our chances though. Unfortunately, we were down a couple of (players). It's just been like that this year with our ups and downs with our guys.''

Cannen Cunningham started the key SMU run, scoring all six of his points in the stretch. Moore added a jumper and a 3-pointer, giving SMU a 63-52 lead. The Tigers would get no closer than six points the rest of the way.

''We didn't defend real well the first 10 minutes, but down the stretch we were great,'' Brown said. ''We guarded really well, and I thought that was the difference.''

Memphis, which trailed 30-28 at the break, suffered with turnovers in the second half, committing eight. Part of that was because with just more than a minute gone in the second half, Memphis starting guard Kedren Johnson drew his fourth foul, then added a technical for his fifth, sending him to the bench the rest of the game. His absence, an injury earlier in the game to Markel Crawford and an illness for guard Pookie Powell, left the Tigers relying on junior college transfer D'Marnier Cunningham to run the Tigers' offense.

''You lose your point guard, it's really tough,'' Brown said of Johnson fouling out. ''He got in foul trouble, and that was a key.''

SMU would end the night going 13 of 24 from the line, while Memphis shot only seven free throws, making six.

''It was physical. The intensity was pretty much matched,'' Goodwin said. ''You could tell by our foul calls and how many of our players got hurt that it was a physical game.''


SMU: The Mustangs beat Memphis 73-59 on Jan. 8 in Dallas. .. .SMU has won twice in Memphis - the previous time coming in the 1953-54 season.

Memphis: Memphis leading scorer Austin Nichols finished with six points, going 2 for 11 from the field. Nichols entered the game averaging 13.7 points. ... Crawford left the game with an injured jaw in the first half and did not return.

LONG TIME AGO: Brown noted that the win was the Mustangs first win in Memphis that he knew of, and he was determined to relish it. ''I don't remember the last time SMU has won here, but we've won here now. Let's enjoy that.''


SMU visits UConn on Sunday.

Memphis hosts Tulsa on Saturday.

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