Energy, game control and competitiveness all have one thing in common – Nic Moore.
Moore entered Moody Coliseum for the final time as a Mustang flanked by his parents, mom on the left, dad on the right. Three years ago, Moore walked onto the Hilltop as just a short kid looking to play basketball. Tonight, he leaves as a legend.
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) March 4, 2016
SMU’s seniors played resilient like they have all season. After a quick and energetic start by the Mustangs, the Huskies locked on and wouldn’t let go – scoring when SMU scored and making defensive stop after defensive stop, just when it looked like SMU might get going.
In the early minutes the game had a rivalry feel. One storied program against a program fighting to become something great. With 7:48 to play in the first half, the game was tied. But SMU went on a 10-0 run to take a commanding lead, something they were unable to do in their earlier season loss at UCONN this year.
With a 16 point lead at halftime, the Mustangs never looked back. Sterling Brown scored 12 points in a first half that was highlighted by tough defense for the Mustangs. Ultimately, Moody Magic was a little too much for UCONN. The Huskies were never able to match the energy of Larry Brown and company, and only survived 13 minutes of the game before SMU pulled away.
On a night that was all about the seniors, junior guard Sterling Brown showed off what might be to come for SMU fans with a 20 point performance. After a season mired with talks about SMU’s post season ban and the transfer of junior guard Keith Frazier, seniors Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy, and Jordan Tolbert remained focused.
Tonight, none of that changed. SMU’s big men dominated down low, doing a little bit of everything. Markus Kennedy finished with 4 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds, while Jordan Tolbert had 14 points and 7 rebounds. There was plenty of magic left in the tank for SMU tonight.
Like always, the seniors didn’t make it about themselves as they put on a show for fans across the country. Moody Coliseum was treated to their performances one last time. It was a bittersweet farewell but what better than to be UCONN at home. For Markus Kennedy and Nic Moore, their final home game marked three straight seasons of attendance surpassing 100,000. With a total attendance number of 7,303, SMU marked the second highest total season home attendance in school history.
As time ticked off the clock, Larry Brown pulled the seniors from the game. Nic Moore and Kennedy embraced, tearfully, at mid-court. And as the final horn sounded, Tolbert and Kennedy hugged Nic Moore, engulfing the 5’9 guard – it was a memorable moment, the perfect end to the tumultuous season.
SMU played some of the best basketball they’ve played all season – selfless, energetic, and flashy, just how Larry Brown likes it. The Mustangs out-rebounded the Huskies 36-30, and held UCONN to 34 percent shooting while shooting 51 percent from the field.
— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) March 4, 2016
During the game, Nic Moore became just the second player in SMU history to surpass 500 career assists. SMU is 6-2 all time versus UCONN.
Senior Stat Line
Nic Moore – 16 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals.
Markus Kennedy – 4 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal.
Jordan Tolbert – 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal.
SMU will play at Cincinatti on Sunday for a share of the regular season conference championship with Temple.
Post-season or not, it’s been an amazing year for SMU basketball. An 18-0 record, 15 straight weeks in the AP top 25, and a 16-1 record at home. Amid all the controversy, SMU’s seniors surprised a nation and proudly represented SMU.