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54
Final 12Score
UC Irvine302454
SMU293968
Preview | Lineup | Wrap | Box
68


UC Irvine (23-11) at SMU (23-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 19, 9 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Moody Coliseum (7,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: ESPN2. NIT Record: UC Irvine 2-4, SMU 0-2. Series Record: First- ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: After being snubbed for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the SMU Mustangs will begin play as the overall No. 1 seed against in the National Invitation Tournament against the UC Irvine Anteaters at Moody Coliseum on Wednesday night.

A three-game losing streak, including a setback to Houston in the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals, came at the wrong time for SMU, which missed out on the NCAA Tournament despite owning a national ranking and logging the most wins for the program since (1987-88). The Mustangs will have to settle with a berth in the NIT, where they have suffered first-round losses in their two previous visits (1986, 2000).

UC Irvine's absence from the NCAA Tournament is a bit less surprising, but still not what was expected at the end of the regular season. The Anteaters won the Big West Conference regular-season title, but they lost to an 11-19 Cal Poly team in the conference tournament semifinals. They are 23-11 overall as they enter their fifth NIT. They are 2-4 in the event all-time.

This matchup will mark the first ever between these two teams, and the winner will take on either San Francisco or LSU in the next round.

Although UC Irvine never trailed by double digits, it also never led in the second half in its loss to Cal Poly. The Anteaters connected on 46.9 percent from the floor in the contest, but had a slight deficit from the free-throw line (10-7), which proved to be the difference.

UC Irvine still maintained its reputation as one of the better defensive teams in the country in losing to Cal Poly. On the season, the Anteaters are only letting up 63.6 ppg on 37.5 percent shooting, ranking fourth in the nation in opponent field goal percentage. They counter with a balanced, if not extremely potent offensive attack. Luke Nelson (11.7 ppg) is one of three double-digit scorers on the roster, with Chris McNealy (11.1 ppg) and Will Davis II (11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) also lending a hand. Mamadou Ndiaye (8 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 bpg) is critical for his ability to protect the rim.

Off nights from several major contributors doomed SMU against Houston. Nic Moore, who earned all-conference honors, was especially out of character, finishing with eight points, all from the free-throw line, as he went 0-of-9 from then field. The Mustangs only shot 40 percent from the floor as a team.

SMU is also a team that focuses more on defense and feeds off of that success when it has the ball. The Mustangs rank among the top-20 in the country in both scoring defense (62.3 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.377). Moore (13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg) is the team's top scoring threat, and a solid defender in the backcourt. Nick Russell (9.6 ppg, 3.3 apg) provides plenty of support. Markus Kennedy (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg) is an athletic forward who can score, rebound and defend with equal effectiveness. Kennedy was the only one of the three to really show up against Houston, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds.

There should be some extra motivation for SMU in this game, and the tournament as whole. Expect the Mustangs to feed off of the disappointment from Selection Sunday, and roll into the second round.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: SMU 76, UC Irvine 62

03/19 10:33:36 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
9th
PIT 0
MIL 0
 
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
 
7th
MIN 2
CLE 7
 
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
 
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
 
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
 
6th
SDP 1
SFG 0
 
5th
ANA 3
TEX 0
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
 
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
Final
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
 
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
4th
SMISS 21
APPST 14
 
1st
TOL 20
BST 3
 
Final
OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
 
4th
CIN 31
UMO 24
 
Final
MEM 36
MTST 17
 
4th
LSU 16
MSST 34
 
Final
ARK 52
NILL 14
 
4th
ARKST 14
UTST 14
 
4th
SALABAMA 6
GASO 21
 
3rd
WVU 27
OKLA 31
 
4th
VANDY 24
SCAR 27
 
3rd
NEB 24
MIAMI 21
 
3rd
NMST 21
NMU 21
 
3rd
HOU 27
UNLV 7
 
3rd
FSU 10
CLEM 10
 
1st
ARZ 0
CAL 14
 
10:30pm Tonight
BSU
LALAF
10:30pm Tonight
WASU
OREG
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
SDST
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0