NCAA News Wire
SMU 70, Central Florida 55
DALLAS — Forward Markus Kennedy had 18 points and eight rebounds to power No. 23 SMU to a 70-55 win over Central Florida on Saturday.
Point guard Nic Moore also had 13 points, six assists and four steals to help set SMU up for a big final week of the regular season.
SMU hosts No. 7 Louisville on Wednesday, then travels to No. 21 Memphis on Saturday to close out its American Athletic Conference regular-season schedule. SMU is looking for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1993.
The Mustangs had little trouble dispatching UCF after Moore hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 45-27 lead in the second half. The second 3-pointer was from NBA range, igniting the sold-out crowd at Moody Coliseum.
UCF (11-16, 3-13) was held to 37.5 percent shooting from the field, becoming SMU’s 22nd opponent this season to shoot below 40 percent.
Guard Isaiah Sykes led the Knights with 18 points and forward Kasey Wilson added 11.
SMU (23-6, 12-4) broke out to an 18-4 lead to start the game before UCF made its second field goal. The Knights missed nine of their first 10 shots from the floor before Sykes scored with 10:34 left in the first half.
SMU’s lead grew to 24-22 before UCF rallied to within four at 25-21 with four minutes to go in the half. UCF’s rally came after Moore and Kennedy both went to the bench with two fouls each.
The Mustangs pushed their lead back to double digits at 34-23 by halftime thanks to a 9-2 run, highlighted by center Cannen Cunningham’s three-point play.
Cunningham had three of SMU’s seven blocks in the first half.
Even with the slight surge, UCF ended the half shooting just 28.6 percent from the field (8 of 28) to SMU’s 58.3 percent (14 of 24).
Guard Nick Russell led SMU’s scoring in the first half with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and finished with 15.
NOTES: The game was SMU’s first since a 64-55 win at then-No. 21 Connecticut on Feb. 23. That win returned SMU to the Associated Press Top 25 for the second time this season. The Mustangs fell out of the Top 25 after one week following a 71-64 loss at Temple on Feb. 16. … SMU is now 15-0 at home this season, including 9-0 at newly-renovated Moody Coliseum. SMU played its first six home games at a suburban school district’s arena while work was finished on Moody. … Before Saturday’s double-digit loss, five of UCF’s last seven games had been decided by six points or fewer. Two of UCF’s three conference wins had come in its four previous games, including a 67-65 win at Rutgers on Wednesday.
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