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

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

SMU men’s basketball to face UAB Blazers

The Daily Campus
MUSTAFA IDRIS/The Daily Campus

MUSTAFA IDRIS/The Daily Campus (The Daily Campus)

Last time the SMU men’s basketball team faced the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Blazers (12-4, 2-1 Conference USA) barely scraped by with a one point win, defeating the Mustangs on their home court 63-62.

In SMU’s weekend loss to Houston, Mike Walker had the chance to seal what would have been the Mustangs’ second consecutive conference win, but instead SMU was defeated by Houston, 70-68.

In both games, SMU (10-7, 1-2 C-USA) had the final shot, but both attempts fell short. This year, as SMU plays in their second conference road game, the Mustangs hope to seek revenge against a team they haven’t beaten since 2007.

In tonight’s road game against UAB, the Mustangs hope history doesn’t repeat itself twice.

Despite their loss to Houston, senior Papa Dia had one of his best games of the season with his seventh double double of the season, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in addition to his career-high seven steals.

Averaging 17.6 points per game, Dia leads the team on the boards with an average of 8.8 rebounds per game and also has a team high 31 blocks.

As a result of his efforts, Dia was named this week’s Conference USA Player of the Week for the first time this season and second time of his career.

SMU’s Robert Nyakundi, who still was not 100 percent against Houston after rolling his ankle against Tulane on Jan. 8, continues to have a large presence for the Mustang’s offense, averaging 16.7 points per game coupled with a team-high of 19 steals.

However, SMU’s defense gave up 33 points in three’s against Houston and will have to better defend the three-point line against the Blazers who average 24 points in three’s per game.

While SMU remains the top three-point shooting team in C-USA, they struggled from the long-range against the Cougars, shooting only 6-of-21.

However, SMU also ranks last in three-point field goal defense and could have that weakness exploited by the Blazers if SMU’s weekend loss to Houston was any indication of their opponent’s zoning in on one of the team’s weaknesses.

Fresh off a 66-59 win against East Carolina, the Blazers host SMU as part of a three-game home stand as UAB looks to improve to a perfect 9-0 at home. With their top three scorers all averaging double-digits, the Blazers are second to the Mustangs in three-pointers made, ranking them as the No. 5 team in league play. SMU stands in 11th place, one spot ahead of the last-place Rice Owls.

Leading the Blazers with an average of 17.9 points per game is senior guard Jamarr Sanders. Joining him is Cameron Moore with an average of 17.1 points per game and Aaron Johnson with 10.5.

UAB leads the series 5-2.

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