The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Anticipation mounting for SMU Basketball’s Sunday throwdown vs. Cincinnati

Anticipation mounting for SMU Basketballs Sunday throwdown vs. Cincinnati

When the Mustangs hosted 7th ranked Cincinnati three seasons ago, nobody knew how good SMU was.

Under second year head coach Larry Brown, the Mustangs found themselves in the middle of only their second winning season in a decade. With transfers Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy now eligible to play, SMU had already recorded wins over 17th ranked Connecticut and 22nd ranked Memphis at home. Still, the Mustangs had not garnered much national attention or respect.

Moody Coliseum renovated 2013
Moody Coliseum in 2013, shortly after its reopening. (Photo credit: SMU Atheltics)


The lack of recognition was understandable. Firstly, SMU Men’s Basketball, as a program, had not been relevant for a significant amount of time. Long gone were the days when Doc Hayes’ Mustangs dominated the Southwest Conference in the 50s and 60s. SMU had not made the NCAA Tournament since 1993.

Secondly, the beginnings of SMU’s basketball renaissance during the 2013-2014 season took place largely outside the public view.

Because the renovations of Moody Coliseum were not complete until conference play began, the Mustangs played their entire non-conference slate at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. SMU began the season 10-2, but played in front of small crowds and received little media recognition.

Things changed when the Mustangs moved back into the fully renovated Moody. An immediate upset of Connecticut raised eyebrows and turned cameras. SMU kept winning, students started believing and fans kept coming.

By the time the Mustangs took down Memphis by 15, Moody Magic had been born.

Moody Coliseum had become the hottest ticket in town. People were curious – how legit were these Mustangs?

Two top 25 wins were impressive, but SMU needed a statement win that would grab people’s attention.


The Mustangs’ 76-55 victory over Cincinnati was that win. The student section rushing the court following the 21 point upset was a sight some SMU fans never thought they would see. All of the questions people asked when SMU’s athletic department hired Larry Brown seemed no longer valid. SMU Basketball became relevant once again overnight.

SMU Cincinnati court rush.jpg
SMU players, coaches and students sing Varsity following the Mustangs’ upset win over No. 7 Cincinnati.


Fast forward to this season, the buzz surrounding this Sunday’s clash between the Mustangs and Bearcats is even more palpable.

SMU has won 17 of its last 18 games and is ranked No. 25 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. It is the first time the Mustangs have been ranked this season. Cincinnati enters Sunday’s game at No. 11 and has played the best basketball in the American Athletic Conference this season.

A game between two ranked opponents, let alone two conference rivals, should be enough to get fans’ hearts racing. But this game is about more than two elite teams facing off.

SMU’s only loss in that 18 game stretch was to Cincinnati on the road; a 66-64 defeat that would have gone the other way if Sterling Brown would have been able to force a desperation three into the basket in the final seconds.

Though Cincinnati performed better in non-conference play, the Mustangs’ seven-man rotation has given the AAC fits. SMU currently sits at No. 15 in the KenPom ratings, a full five spots higher than the Bearcats. Against the average Division-I team, the Mustangs would be expected to perform almost two points better than Cincinnati.


Following SMU’s 66-50 win over Temple on Thursday, the Mustangs enter Sunday with tremendous momentum. If SMU can defeat Cincinnati, the Mustangs will most likely vault up the polls without much second thought from voters.


SMU also enters this game with a chip on its shoulder. After being banned from the postseason last year, the Mustangs had become somewhat of an afterthought near the start of this season. With three of SMU’s top scorers graduating and Larry Brown departing, many thought the program would take a step back this season under new head coach Tim Jankovich.

While playing possibly the best basketball in the history of the program, Sunday’s game is an opportunity for the Mustangs to reclaim some of the high praise the program lost over the past 12 months.


For Cincinnati, Sunday’s game is a litmus test. A win on SMU’s homecourt would go a long way in making a case for the Bearcats as a legitimate NCAA Tournament threat. The same can be said for the Mustangs, though SMU needs to change its national perception first.

Just like three seasons ago, the Mustangs once again have a chance to prove their relevancy against the same opponent, in the same building and in front of the same crowd.


SMU fans have taken notice. One look at ticket resale websites will show how much this game matters.

The game is sold out and the university is only selling standing room only tickets at this time. The cheapest resale ticket available for an actual seat as of Friday night can be found on for $74.99. $84 is the cheapest seat available on The cheapest seat on comes in at $107 and has seats starting at $131.

The best seat available? Courtside in Section 104 for $217 on StubHub. Another set of tickets was listed Friday afternoon in Section 103 for $1670 per ticket.

SMU Ojeleye layup full size.jpg

SMU Athletics is doing all it can to make sure the Moody Magic is stronger than ever, including the implementation of a new policy for students. Members of The Mob must arrive by 2:30 p.m. before their seats are released to students without tickets lined up outside.

“Make the bricks shake!” SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon.


Everyone in the SMU community seems on board with packing Moody this Sunday, including Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton.


Rivalry game. Armageddon. Rock fight. Slobberknocker. Call it what you will. Sunday’s game has a chance to be one of the best battles in college hoops this season and is mandatory viewing for anyone that likes physical, nitty-gritty basketball.

Sunday’s game has the potential to closely resemble the final fight in Rocky IV between Balboa and Ivan Drago. Two teams leaving it all in the ring, or, on the floor rather. Everyone should hope both SMU and Cincinnati defend better than Balboa and Drago, but the big fight feel will be omnipresent. Let us also hope no real punches are thrown.






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