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SMU 62 @ MICHIGAN 51

Whether or not Markus Kennedy’s return made a difference may be up for debate. But the main thing is, SMU has the big non-conference win it was hoping for.

Kennedy only scored five points off the bench in his first game back from academic struggles, but with Nick Moore being his usual slashing and driving self and Yanick Moreira being near unstoppable in the paint, the Mustangs beat Michigan 62-51 in “The Big House” in Ann Arbor, picking up their first road win of the season.

Moore and Moreira carried SMU for pretty much the entire day, combining for 36 points while no one else in red scored more than six.

SMU’s frontcourt defense was key to the game, as they held Michigan’s starting trio of Kameron Chatman, Ricky Doyle and swingman Caris LeVert to a combined seven points.

It still wasn’t easy, as turnovers and bad shot selection, combined with the three-point lightning of Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin and Mark Donnal, led to the Mustangs losing a 10-point lead to fall behind 48-45 with under eight minutes to play. But SMU gained back control after that, ending the game on a 17-3 run.

Still, a victory over this team might not be as valuable as originally hoped when scheduled. The Mustangs just handed Michigan its fifth loss of the year, after the Wolverines did not lose a fifth game until February in each of the last two seasons.

So it will remain to be seen if this victory will overcome the losses the Ponies suffered to Gonzaga, Indiana and Arkansas (all of them with Kennedy out) in the eyes of the selection committee – an issue SMU can still avoid if it wins the American championship.

For now, though, Larry Brown knows he finally has his full squad and can focus on the remainder of the season rather than the struggles of the past.

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