For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Southern Methodist Mustangs are ranked in the AP Top 25. Following a 76-55 thrashing over the then-No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats, SMU jumped to No. 23 in the country according to the latest polls, one spot ahead of American Athletic Conference foe Connecticut, who they beat by nine to open the newly renovated Moody Coliseum way back on Jan. 4.
In just his second season in Dallas, head coach Larry Brown has the ‘Stangs playing a hard nosed style of basketball that has translated into a 19-5 record and a long overdue appearance in the Top 25. The last time SMU was ranked, Ronald Reagan was our President. They’re third in the AAC with an 8-3 mark, just half a game behind Louisville but just half a game up on Memphis.
They’ve won eight of their past nine games with seven of those wins coming by double digits and are 3-1 against AP Top 25 teams this year. The Mustangs were 10-2 heading into January and things could have fallen apart after a 1-2 start to the new year, but instead they rallied and have since gone 8-1 with the lone loss coming in a head-scratching loss at lowly South Florida.
They’re likely to remain in the rankings thanks to a soft three-game stretch coming up before finishing the regular season on the road at UConn, home against Central Florida and Louisville and finally on the road at Memphis. They’ll be up for the challenge since their two staples, tenacious defense and high-percentage shots on offense, never go out of style. They’ve bought into Brown’s system and it’s paying off in a big way.
SMU is for real, folks, and the college basketball world has been served fair warning.
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