DALLAS (AP) – All Cannen Cunningham had to do was jump. The ball was usually waiting for SMU’s 6-foot-10 center near the rim.
Cunningham had 14 points with several dunks and the Mustangs got a needed breather, beating Hofstra 73-49 in a makeup game Sunday night for their second victory in two days.
“Cannen was great. There were some highlight plays,” coach Larry Brown said. “I like the way we shared the ball.”
SMU (14-4) led throughout after scoring the game’s first six points. Cunningham had three powerful dunks in the first 6 1/2 minutes after halftime, the last in that span for a 46-24 Mustangs lead.
Nick Russell had an alley-oop pass to Cunningham for the first dunk, then to Markus Kennedy for another slam. Nic Moore made an alley-oop pass for another dunk by Cunningham, whose last slam in that spurt was after a more traditional pass from Russell.
“I didn’t have to do much but jump,” Cunningham said. “Both Nics are good passers.”
Kennedy had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Mustangs, who are already within one of matching last season’s victory total in Hall of Fame coach Brown’s debut on the Hilltop. Nic Moore had 10 points and seven assists, while Ben Moore had 10 points.
Hofstra (6-12) was originally supposed to play SMU on Dec. 7, a game to be played in the Dallas suburb of Frisco that was postponed when the Pride’s flight to Dallas was canceled due to icy weather in North Texas. They probably wouldn’t have minded another cancellation.
“We start talking about our next game right away,” Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. “One of those burn-the-tape games. Burn the tape and move on.”
Even without another game this weekend, Hofstra shot a season-low 33 percent (16 of 48) from the field and was outscored 42-6 in the paint. The Mustangs had 18 assists on their 27 field goals, six by Russell.
The later date allowed the makeup to be played in the newly renovated Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus. It was the Mustangs’ third game in their new building this month and they’ve won all of them.
SMU was on the road for its American Athletic Conference game Saturday, a 58-46 victory at UCF. The Mustangs play their third game in four days Tuesday night when they host Rutgers in another conference game.
“I just was happy with the way we played,” Brown said. “I don’t worry about back-to-back (games). … The kids do it in AAU. I think they’re all right.”
Chris Jenkins had 14 points for Hofstra, while Dion Nesmith had 11 and Zeke Upshaw had 10 on 3-of-14 shooting. Upshaw was coming off a 27-point game when he tied a team record with seven 3-pointers.
Cunningham’s breakaway slam on a half-court pass from Ryan Manuel put SMU up 24-14 with 7:48 left in the first half.
The Mustangs stretched the lead to 33-18 by halftime even with only one more field goal in that stretch, Ben Moore’s layup with 1:06 left.
Hofstra never got closer after halftime, when the Mustangs put on quite a rim-rattling show.
Even when the high-arching pass from Russell wasn’t quite where it needed to be, Manuel managed to tip in a basket that hit a couple of sides of the rim before falling. And Cunningham wasn’t finished, with a breakaway one-handed slam that made it 66-34 with 7 1/2 minutes left.
“I don’t know if we’re going to play a better defensive team all year long,” Mihalich said. “Hopefully we got something out of it. … I’m not too fond of our demeanor out there.”