December 04, 2015

SMU star Nic Moore hasn't been able to practice much over the past couple weeks. That isn't stopping him from playing a leading role come game time.

The banged-up senior guard will try to continue his stellar play as the 22nd-ranked Mustangs seek their best start in 18 years Saturday against a visiting New Hampshire team loaded with Texans.

Moore, who played at Illinois State as a freshman under SMU interim coach Tim Jankovich, sustained a broken pinkie on his shooting hand in the season opener Nov. 14.

The reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year averaged 12.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting while struggling through the first three games before finally having to sit out a 77-69 home win over Brown on Sunday.

Moore returned to action Thursday with a brace on his hand, though it fell off during a sensational effort in a 75-70 win at rival TCU. He went 5 for 9 from 3-point range, made four of SMU's final five field goals and scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half.

"Imagine coming out here and putting up that performance after barely practicing - that's amazing to me. I don't know many guys who can do that," said Jankovich, who's filling in while coach Larry Brown serves a nine-game suspension. "I thought it was one of the great, courageous, late-game performances I've seen."

Jankovich is hoping Moore can keep it going in a quick turnaround as the Mustangs try to win their first six games for the first time since a 10-0 start in 1997-98. They're beginning a five-game homestand that leads into the AAC opener at Tulsa on Dec. 29.

SMU has been dominant at home, winning 37 of 40 since the start of the 2013-14 season.

Senior forward Markus Kennedy is averaging 13.5 points on 59.5 percent shooting over his last four games. Ben Moore could return to the starting lineup after scoring eight Thursday following a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

SMU, which ranks first among AAC squads in 3-point shooting (39.7) and second in field-goal percentage (51.4), will get its first look at a New Hampshire team that has given up an average of 73.5 points and 47.4 percent shooting over its past six games.

"It's going to be a really, really hard game," coach Bill Herrion told the Wildcats' official website. "They're very talented. Very strong inside."

New Hampshire (5-2) allowed Abilene Christian to shoot 48.0 percent - including 8 of 15 from 3-point range - in Thursday's 86-75 victory that opened a two-game Texas road swing.

Daniel Dion finished with 16 points and Tanner Leissner scored 14 to go along with seven rebounds after missing the previous three games with a concussion as New Hampshire shot 53.3 percent in its third straight road victory.

The trip is a homecoming of sorts for seven Texans on the roster, including all five starters. Leissner, a San Antonio native, leads New Hampshire with 17.0 points per game.

"They took a chance on coming to our program when we were down to help us build it and get better and they've all done that," Herrion said. "Our reward to them was to at some point in their careers bring them back out here to have a chance to play in front of family."

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