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SMU 77, Rutgers 65

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — SMU’s first appearance as a member of the AP Top 25 in almost 30 years resulted in a 77-65 win over Rutgers on Friday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

No. 23 SMU (20-5, 9-4 American Athletic Conference) received 21 points from guard Nic Moore in winning its fourth game in a row and ninth in its last 10. The last time the Mustangs were ranked in the Top 25 was on March 12, 1985.

Rutgers (10-15, 4-8) was led by guard Myles Mack’s 17 points.

The Scarlet Knights cut the SMU lead to six points at 64-58 with 5:15 remaining but fell victim to a 7-0 run from the Mustangs that made it 71-50.

Rutgers closed to one point at 41-40 with 14:23 to play, but Kennedy started a 14-2 run with a layup and conventional three-point play that helped the Mustangs to a 52-42 cushion with 10:52 left. Moore drained three 3-pointers in the sequence.

Without an especially big frontcourt, SMU relied on the quickness and long-range shooting of Moore, a sophomore transfer from Illinois State. Moore nailed five of his nine 3-pointers to go along with five assists.

The Mustangs have undergone a transformation under legendary coach Larry Brown. SMU went more than 10 years without a win over a ranked team before opening renovated Moody Coliseum by defeating then-No. 17 Connecticut. Since then, the Mustangs have since posted double-digit wins over Top 25 teams Memphis and Cincinnati, the latter a 76-55 decision on Feb. 8 for their first on-campus victory over a top-10 team since 1967.

The Mustangs broke a 21-21 tie with 7:48 to go in the first half by outscoring Rutgers 15-8 to end the half with a 36-29 lead.

SMU’s perimeter defense stifled the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers failed to knock down any of its six 3-point shots and connected on just 10 of 28 from the floor.

The Scarlet Knights missed their last nine shots from the floor, five by forward Kadeem Jack, and failed to score a basket in the final 6:18.

Center Cannen Cunningham led the Mustangs with 10 points in the opening half.

NOTES: SMU coach Larry Brown is the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history with 1,098 victories. He is the only head coach to win both an NCAA title (Kansas, 1988) and an NBA championship (Detroit Pistons, 2004). … SMU is one of five teams in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in the AP Top 25, joining Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut and Cincinnati. … The Mustangs are first in the nation in scoring margin (20.0) and second in field goal percentage defense (36.7). … Rutgers G Myles Mack leads the AAC in free throw percentage (.941). … A moment of silence was observed before the game for former Rutgers player Keith Hughes, who died Feb. 8. The 45-year-old Hughes was the 1990-91 Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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