Two teams at the bottom of the AAC standings will meet tonight in Tulsa, both looking to end losing streaks. We’ll preview the game before I break down which side I’ll be backing.
Outside of a win over their opponent tonight, the SMU Mustangs have struggled in conference play. In the Mustangs' last match-up over Cincinnati, they only lost by two points, but it also marked the third time their offense scored below 53 points since AAC play started. The offense has shown flashes of potential this season, but ultimately their offensive efficiency rating is still ranked 211th in the country, according to KenPom.
Due to injury, leading scorer Zhuric Phelps has only played in three of the Mustangs' five conference games, and he struggled to find his shooting touch in all three. Phelps went 5-18 from the field against Cincinnati, which brought his season shooting percentage down to 39.9%.
Despite the loss to Cincinnati, the Mustangs' defense looked solid for the first time since their win over Tulsa. Until the Bearcats game, SMU had allowed 85 or more points to be scored in three straight games, so the question remains as to which Mustangs defense will show up tonight.
Tulsa is hoping for a different defensive team from the last time they met, as SMU held the Golden Hurricanes to their second-lowest point total since conference play began. Tulsa had lost two straight before they lost to the Mustangs, and since then, they’ve lost three more, bringing their losing streak up to six games.
It’s been a tough season on both ends of the floor for the Golden Hurricanes as they rank 245th in the country in adjusted efficiency margin, according to KenPom. Offensively they like to run at a fast tempo and have attempted an average of 25 three-pointers a game which is the 47th highest in the country, but the only problem is they are shooting 32.5% from three and 42.7% from the field.
SMU is currently listed as a -3 point road favorite, and I’ll be backing them for my play in this game. The Mustangs have talented scorers on their offense, but they have been inconsistent this season; however, I think the Golden Hurricanes' defense that is allowing an average of 75.7 points per game, is the perfect defense to get back in the win column against.
The last time these two teams met, the Mustangs were able to score 92 points, and in that game, Zach Nutall was able to score 17 points and knock down four three-pointers which are both highs in conference play for him. Tulsa is allowing opponents to shoot an average of 46.2% from the field, which has them ranked 293rd in the country, so this is the type of team that can help the Mustangs gain confidence on the offensive end.
I think the Golden Hurricanes' defense will make it too difficult for them to stay in the game, especially with an effective field goal percentage that ranks 205th in college basketball. Tulsa is 0-8 ATS in their last eight home games, and the favorite has covered the previous four times these teams have met, so I expect both of those trends to continue tonight.
SMU Mustangs (-3)