Rhode Island (1-0) at SMU (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 11, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Curtis Culwell Center (6,800) -- Garland, Texas. Television: ESPN3, WatchESPN. Home Record: URI 1-0, SMU 00-0. Away Record: URI 0-0, SMU 0-0. Neutral Record: URI 0-0, SMU 1-0. Conference Record: URI 0-0, SMU 0-0. Series Record: Rhode Island leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The SMU Mustangs will look to avenge last season's loss to the Rams when they host Rhode Island at the Curtis Culwell Center for their home opener on Monday. SMU will play all its non-conference home games in Garland this season while renovations are completed at the Moody Coliseum.
The Rams defeated SMU, 72-50, in Kingston last December in the first meeting in history between these schools. The Mustangs entered the contest with an 8-1 record and Rhode Island was 2-7 before the surprising blowout victory.
Dan Hurley's Rams opened of their season on Friday with a 97-77 triumph over Maine, which set a new scoring record for the team under the second-year head coach. The win snapped the five-game losing streak Rhode Island suffered to end 2012-13 season with an 8-21 overall record. The high scoring output versus the Black Bears was a good sign for the Rams, who ranked last in the Atlantic 10 in Hurley's first tour with the team with an average of just 61.6 points per game.
Rhode Island returned an all-conference caliber guard in Xavier Munford, who posted 17.4 points per game last season to lead the squad. Munford took a back season against Maine on Friday, finishing behind three of his teammates in the scoring column with 11 points. The 6-foot-8 sophomore Ifeanyi Onyekaba was a force in the paint, posting a double-double in his debut for the Rams. Onyekaba finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He and Gilvday Biruta played a big role in the Rams' 55-28 advantage on the boards. Hassan Martin added 15 points in just 13 minutes of action while Jarelle Reischel scored 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and also pulled down seven rebounds.
The Rams will not have a cakewalk against Larry Brown's Mustangs again this season as the Hall-of-Fame coach has much more talent at his disposal for his second year with the school. The 5-9 Illinois State transfer Nic Moore tallied 13 points and eight rebounds in his first appearance for SMU to lift the team to a 69-61 decision over TCU in Friday's season opener. The number one junior college prospect in the nation, Yanick Moreira, was also on the floor at tip- off for the Mustangs, who were thought to be returning all five of their starters from last season's 15-17 squad. However, last season's leading scorer and rebounder, Jalen Jones, did not dress as news surfaced he decided to transfer out of the program, reportedly due to a concern that there will be a lack of playing time for the transfer infused Mustangs.
Moreira went just 1-of-6 from the floor, but matched Moore with eight rebounds. Ryan Manuel tallied 12 points and Keith Frazier scored 11 in 18 minutes off the bench. Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy played 23 minutes. Shawn Williams contributed seven points and a team-high two steals as SMU's defense that limited the Horned Frogs to just 35.4 percent shooting from the field helped it prevail. The Mustangs converted 41.7 percent of their shots from the floor, but were lucky to survive after finishing with a 13-of-22 clip at the charity stripe.
The Mustangs looked like a much improved squad despite the loss of Jones. Brown had mentioned numerous times during his first year in Dallas that he was anxious to activate his transfers in waiting. Now that he has his prized horses in the stable, the Mustangs are very likely to make a run at the American Athletic Conference crown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 78, Rhode Island 70
11/11 10:37:43 ET