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NCAA Basketball SMU Mustangs

SMU Basketball Program Already Turned Around Thanks to Larry Brown

Nic Moore

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

SMU Mustangs head basketball coach Larry Brown is not used to losing. Last season, his first at SMU, he was able to lead the Mustangs to a 15-17 overall record. Surprisingly, in his eight full collegiate coaching seasons, it was the first time he did not lead his team to a 20-win campaign.

Brown had gone 22-10 and 20-7 with UCLA in the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons and 22-10, 26-8, 35-4, 25-11, and 27-11 during his five seasons at Kansas between 1983 and 1988. During his time coaching the Jayhawks, he also was able to win an NCAA Championship.

When Brown was hired to be the next Mustangs head coach, he knew the challenge that lay ahead would be a significant one. SMU has had only one season, in 1999-2000, in which they won 20 games. In that time span they have also only reached the NCAA Tournament once. In the complete history of the Southern Methodist basketball program, which spans all the way back to 1953, the team has only been able to record six 20-win campaigns.

Through the first two games of the season, the Mustangs are off to a perfect start at 2-0 and have shown to lead a very balanced offensive attack with nine players averaging over six points per game. The team has been undoubtedly led by Illinois State transfer Nic Moore. The redshirt sophomore has put up a team-leading 16.5 points per game in the first two contests. No other player is currently averaging double-figures.

Top prospect Keith Frazier will look to get significant playing time this season, and if he doesn’t declare for the upcoming NBA Draft he will be joined by another top prospect in 2014-15. Ranked in the top-5 of overall prospects, point guard Emmanuel Mudiay signed to play with the Mustangs due to coach Brown’s recruiting efforts.

The youthful yet talented roster will not face tough opposition in their non-conference schedule, with Arkansas and Virginia as the only two real threats. This weak schedule can easily result in SMU getting off to a 11-2 or 12-1 start going into AAC play. The foundation should be there for Brown to earn yet another 20-win season.

The Mustangs square off against the first of their two non-conference tests tonight when they travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Tip off is at 7:00 p.m. CT.

Dan Karpuc is an American Athletic Conference writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_karpuc, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.