DALLAS (AP) — Nic Moore and Keith Frazier helped SMU bounce back from a pair of losses in games that could have helped the NCAA tournament resume.
Now that the No. 22 Mustangs are likely to fall out of the rankings despite a 77-68 victory against Eastern Washington on Saturday night, they’ll get ready to play an undefeated Arkansas team that could soon find itself in the Top 25.
“This is a long season,” said Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, whose team was surprisingly left out of the NCAAs last season and reached the championship game of the NIT. “We’ve got a lot of big games. Our goal is to get better.”
SMU (2-2) was good enough in a first-ever meeting with Eagles, who beat their first three opponents by a combined 110 points. Moore led the Mustangs with 22 points, six assists and two steals, while Frazier added a career-high 17 points.
The Mustangs (2-2), coming off road losses to No. 13 Gonzaga and Indiana, won the first of seven straight games at renovated Moody Coliseum, where SMU is 14-1 since it reopened last season. Arkansas is the biggest name during the homestand.
“I think this is a good win against a quality team,” Brown said of the Eagles.
Tyler Harvey kept Eastern Washington close with 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. He had consecutive 3-pointers to get the Eagles within five with less than 2 minutes remaining before his miss from long range helped the Mustangs hang on.
“Who knows if anybody comes in here this year and wins, but we have to be proud,” Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford said. “You just have to do something super-special to pull out a win here.”
Frazier, a former Dallas high school standout who was the first big recruit for Brown with the Mustangs, scored seven straight SMU points early in the second half to help build a 13-point lead. He was 7 of 8 from the field.
“He’s got to get better down at that (defensive) end and then we’ve got to recognize when he’s in the game and he’s open, he’s got to get the ball,” Brown said. “He shouldn’t be getting eight shots. He deserves more because he’s by far our best shooter.”
Eastern Washington: The Eagles are playing an American Athletic Conference opponent for the second straight season. They lost to eventual national champion Connecticut 82-65 last December. … Eastern Washington shot 42 percent three days after shooting a school-record 73 percent in a 95-34 win over Walla Walla.
SMU: Frazier had his previous career high of 11 points four times. That included his debut as a freshman a year ago and the season opener this month. … Sterling Brown had seven points and 11 rebounds, while Yanick Moreira scored 13 points to go with five rebounds.
ANOTHER FRONTCOURT LOSS
The Mustangs are already playing without forward Markus Kennedy because of eligibility issues, and forward Justin Martin went down midway through the second half with a right knee injury. Brown said he didn’t know the extent of the damage, if any. Martin committed a foul on purpose to stop the game, then went to the floor before he could get to the bench. He was helped off the court, unable to put pressure on the leg.
THE LONG BALL
Eastern Washington had 36 attempts from 3-point range, making 11. The Eagles have at least 10 baskets from beyond the arc in all four games. Harvey was 4 of 14 from long range, and Kelly Parker was 4 of 8 for all 12 of his points. “That’s how they play. They play like a European team,” Brown said.
Eastern Washington: At Indiana on Monday.
SMU: Hosts Arkansas on Tuesday.
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