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Tulane-SMU Preview


With his collegiate career winding down, Nic Moore hasn't allowed a nagging shoulder injury to keep him from helping SMU vie for a second consecutive American Athletic Conference regular-season title.

Moore should be healthy enough to continue his strong play at home when the No. 24 Mustangs try for a third straight win Sunday against Tulane.

With three games left for Moore and SMU (23-4, 11-4) this season, the senior guard has done all he can of late to lead his team no matter how physically grueling that may be. Second in the AAC averaging 16.6 points, Moore shrugged off that lingering injury and a tough first half to score all 12 of his points in the final 20 minutes of Thursday's 69-62 win at Memphis.

He went 4 of 9 from the field and hit a floater with less than a minute to play that gave the Mustangs a three-point lead. Moore also recorded six assists and a season-high six steals as SMU won its second straight following a 3-4 stretch.

''I thought Nic was really hurt and (Memphis) did a great job trying to keep him from getting it, but he kind of gutted it out,'' SMU coach Larry Brown said. ''Pretty awesome performance.''

Attempting to win back-to-back league regular-season titles for the first time since a three-season Southwest Conference run from 1964-65 to 1966-67, SMU is one-half game behind first-place Temple, which won the lone meeting between the schools. Another league championship is all the Mustangs have to play as they're barred from the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.

Before Sunday's finale at Cincinnati, Moore plays twice more at home, where he's averaged 23.2 points and gone 24 of 48 from 3-point range in the last six. He's also recorded 18 assists over the last two in Dallas.

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"You look at all the dynamics that have gone into this year, what he's done, he's been as good as any player in the country," Brown said earlier this month.

Moore didn't have one of his better outings while scoring 12 points on 2-of-9 shooting in a 60-45 win at Tulane (10-18, 3-12) on Jan 17. Neither did the Mustangs as a team, shooting a season-low 40.4 percent and going 1 of 10 from 3-point range while committing 15 turnovers. However, SMU held the Green Wave to 29.2 percent from the floor, outscored them 32-16 in the paint and forced 20 turnovers it turned into 21 points.

''We did a lot of good things, played extremely hard and were really connected on the defensive end,'' Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. "We put them in position where they would have to dig down a little bit.''

Tulane has dropped six straight at SMU, last playing there in January 2013.

Following consecutive wins at East Carolina and Memphis that involved four combined overtime periods, the Green Wave have lost back-to-back home contests while allowing Houston and those same Pirates to shoot 56 percent.

Senior guard Louis Dabney has averaged 20.8 points and gone 16 of 35 from beyond the arc in the last six games but was held to nine on 2-of-9 shooting against the Mustangs in January.

Tulane has lost 32 in a row against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 25 North Carolina State in December 1999.