No. 18 SMU might be the most under-appreciated team in college basketball right now.
The Mustangs used a second half comeback to defeat Colorado 70-66 to win the Las Vegas Classic and extend its unbeaten run to an 11-0 mark.
After leading for a majority of the game, SMU allowed Colorado to grab an eight-point lead with about eight minutes to go following a Wesley Gordon dunk. However, the Mustangs then went on a 14-1 run of their own to get the lead back for good, with point guard Nic Moore leading the way. Moore knocked down two key jumpers and dished out two assists during that time frame, and was named tournament MVP after putting up 16 points and four assists.
Colorado was led by star forward Josh Scott, who put up his sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Buffaloes fall to 11-2 with only one top-100 win, but have proven a lot about themselves in their two losses. They’ve now dropped games to Iowa State and SMU by a combined 10 points, and in this one had a late lead that could have ended up going either way. Tad Boyle’s team still hasn’t won the game that they can hang their hat on, but they have shown that they’ll be a pretty legitimate threat for an NCAA bid this season once Pac-12 play rolls around.
But really, this one is about SMU. The Mustangs are not eligible for the NCAA Tournament this season, and it’s a terrible shame. They’re playing at a high level on both ends of the floor and would be a legitimate contender to make the Final Four in Houston if they can keep this up throughout the year. Led by Moore and a frontcourt of senior Markus Kennedy and transfer Jordan Tolbert, it’s a group that’s not only well rounded but also has depth at each position on the floor.
It’s going to be a battle between SMU, Cincinnati and Connecticut in the AAC, but it would be pretty hard not to call the Mustangs the favorites right at this moment. They’ll get tested pretty heavily in their first game next Tuesday, as they have to travel to Tulsa to take on a pretty solid team in the Golden Hurricane.