Missouri State (2-3) vs. SMU (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 25, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Puerto Vallarta Convention Center (300) -- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: MSU 2-2, SMU 3-0. Away Record: MSU 0-0, SMU 0-0. Neutral Record: MSU 0-1, SMU 2-0. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, SMU 0-1. Series Record: SMU leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri State Bears and the SMU Mustangs meet in the third- place game of the Hoops for Hope Classic in Puerto Vallarta on Sunday night to close out their holiday weekend in Mexico.
Missouri State has yet to win or lose back-to-back games this year. The Bears split their home matchups in the preliminary round of the tournament, losing to Jacksonville (64-58) and defeating Malone (82-49) before making the trip to Mexico to lose in the semifinal round to South Carolina, 74-67 in overtime.
The Larry Brown-era got off to a fast start for SMU, as it opened the season with wins in each of its first five games. The Mustangs' early-season success pegged them as the favorite to win this tournament, but they slipped up against Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday night, 69-56, for Brown's first colligate loss since 1988.
SMU has won two of the previous three matchups between the two squads.
Missouri State led the back-and-forth battle against South Carolina by three points in the final seconds of regulation, but Michael Carrera drained a three-pointer for the Gamecocks at the buzzer to tie the game and force overtime, where Missouri State was outscored, 16-9. By game's end, it completed just 39 percent of its field goal attempts, including 5-of-19 from three-point range. Marcus Marshall was impressive in defeat, logging 17 points, and Christian Kirk and Anthony Downing each tallied 16 points. Scoring hasn't been the Bears' strong suit in the early going, as they are making just over 40 percent of their field goal attempts, which has all but spoiled a great effort at the defensive end (.398 field goal percentage defense). Downing is the team's leading scorer with 14.8 ppg, but he has struggled from both the floor (.361) and beyond the three-point line (.235). Kirk (11.8 ppg) shoots much better from the field (.578), and Dorrian Williams (6.0 ppg) hands out a team-high 4.6 apg.
SMU had been consistent at both ends of the floor through its first five games, but it struggled against UALR, making only 36 percent of its field goal attempts while allowing its opponent to drop 50 percent of its total shots. The Mustangs were also uncharacteristically off from the foul line (14-of-24). Still, they had four players score in double figures, led by Shawn Williams, who tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. London Giles scored 12 points, Cannen Cunningham added 11 points and seven boards, and Nick Russell netted 10 points. SMU is still shooting an impressive 47 percent from the field through six games, including 41.1 percent from three-point range. Despite going scoreless the last time out, Jalen Jones is still the team's top scorer (15.2 ppg) and rebounder (6.7 ppg). Ryan Manuel (14.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Russell (14.5 ppg, 25 assists), Cunningham (10.0 ppg), and Shawn Williams (9.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) round out the incredibly balanced attack for the Mustangs.
Even though SMU suffered a setback the last time out, it is still off to a great start, and it brings a deep rotation to the table that Missouri State simply cannot match. If the Mustangs can regain their shooting stroke, they'll get back on the winning track.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 73, Missouri State 64
11/25 10:34:53 ET