The SMU Mustangs may have just punched their ticket to the Big Dance with an impressive 64-55 win against the Connecticut Huskies in Storrs, CT. Larry Brown’s Mustangs were in desperate need of a much needed road win against a Top 50 RPI opponent to pad their NCAA resume. The win gave them the added bonus of also notching a win on the road versus a top 25 opponent (UConn was ranked No. 21).
The Mustangs did it with the familiar Larry Brown calling card, a smothering man to man defense. The Mustang defense held the Huskies to 55 points, while harassing the Huskies to 29.6 percent from the field. Huskies star Shabazz Napier was held to 15 points on 5-of-16 from the field as they contested every shot, pass and drive from the opening tip.
Brown surely knew he needed this one if his Mustangs wanted to reach the NCAA for the first time since 1993, and it showed. The Mustangs never trailed on the road against the top 25 opponent, and were extremely efficient from the offensive end hitting 50 percent of their three-point attempts. But, as previously stated, this Mustang team hangs its hat on the defensive end, and they put on a clinic of how to defend the pick and roll, controlling Napier throughout.
The win today almost guarantees the American Athletic Conference will put five teams into the NCAA tournament. Although, much has been said in the national media about how top heavy the AAC is, that cannot diminish how strong the top five teams in the conference are. Once again there should be five teams ranked in the top 25 on Monday, with two of those in the top 10 (Louisville and Cincinnati).