GARLAND (AP) – Markus Kennedy came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points, 14 in the second half, as SMU defeated Texas-Pan American 82-56 on Wednesday night.
The 17 points represented a season high for Kennedy, in his first season with SMU after transferring from Villanova. Ryan Manuel added 14 points for the Mustangs, and Nick Russell contributed a season-high 9 assists and 8 rebounds.
The Mustangs (9-2) played in this eastern suburb of their hometown of Dallas while their long-time campus arena, Moody Coliseum, underwent $47 million of renovations. SMU will play its next home game at Moody on Jan. 4 against Connecticut in its home debut as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
SMU’s home away home produced six wins in six visits during pre-conference play, but Mustangs coach Larry Brown is happy to bid farewell to the Curtis Culwell Center.
“I’m not going to miss the bus ride,” Brown said of the hour-long, one-way trip from campus. “People were great here, but the next time I come back here I want to see a great high school game.”
UTPA (4-9), in its first season in the Western Athletic Conference, suffered its fifth consecutive defeat. The Broncs were led by Javorn Farrell with 23 points and Shaquille Boga with 12.
The Mustangs outscored the visitors 40-20 on points in the paint, outrebounding UTPA 45-35 after being outrebounded 21-14 during the first half. SMU was nearly as efficient from behind the 3-point arc (7 of 15) as it was at the free-throw line (15 of 32).
“I’m not the free-throw coach,” Brown deadpanned. “I’ve got to find out who that guy is.”
UTPA trailed 26-22 with 7:14 to play in the first half before SMU went on an 11-3 run to build a 12-point advantage, its largest of the opening half.
Three minutes into the second half, the SMU lead was only 43-38 before the Mustangs scored six consecutive points on a combination of drives and layups to move ahead 49-38. SMU’s largest lead was the final margin of 26 points.
SMU freshman guard Keith Frazier, a highly recruited hometown prospect averaging 6.0 points and 17.6 minutes off the bench, hurt his right ankle midway through the second half and didn’t return to the game.
The Broncs went into the game averaging just under 17 3-point attempts per game but exceeded that figure in the first half alone in trying to counter the taller Mustangs. UTPA hit 5 of 17 3-point shots during the first half then went 1 for 11 from behind the arc in the second half.
“They have the ability to play above us because their height and length,” said Dan Hipsher, the Broncs’ first-year coach. “It’s hard to finish in there. So we knew we had to kick out and shoot the ball well on the perimeter, and we didn’t make anything.”
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