DALLAS (AP) — Rim-rattling Moody Magic is going to have to suffice for March Madness at No. 19 SMU this season.
The Mustangs, banned from the postseason and still without suspended coach Larry Brown because of NCAA sanctions, are off to their best start in 18 seasons after a dominating 82-58 victory over Michigan on Tuesday night.
"As good as any team in the country," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "We’re not as good as Duke right now, we’re not as good as SMU right now."
Jordan Tolbert got most of his 23 points on nine slam dunks and had nine rebounds, playing a season-high 30 minutes after starting forward Markus Kennedy sprained his left ankle less than a minute into the game at Moody Coliseum.
"It was completely unexpected, but I’m always ready," Tolbert said before refusing to take credit for his 11-of-12 shooting. "I just had to step up for the team. … That’s all because of my teammates."
Nic Moore had 15 points and seven assists, including back-to-back 3-pointers before assisting on consecutive dunks by Tolbert during a 13-2 run late in the first half that put the Mustangs (7-0) in total control.
Keith Frazier also had 15 points for SMU, off to its best start since winning its first 10 games in 1997-98. Ben Moore and Sterling Brown each grabbed 10 rebounds.
The impressive start for the Mustangs comes without Larry Brown, who hasn’t been able to be around the team since before the season opener. The Hall of Fame coach will be able to rejoin SMU after consecutive home games next week.
Tim Jankovich, the associate head coach running the team in Brown’s absence, said it’s a tough situation and confusing at times because of how things have turned out so far.
"Just trying to have these guys do something, really, really special so the country is talking about them and watching, kind of get their due," Jankovich said. "Not going to get our due in March, not going to be on all the shows and talked about. … I want them to have so much fun and do so well."
Duncan Robinson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each scored 15 points for Michigan (6-3), which had won four in a row since consecutive losses to Xavier and Connecticut in November.
Nic Moore had two 3s in 28 seconds to start the 13-2 run before halftime, the second 3 coming on a fast break after a turnover when Sterling Brown penetrated and passed back to Moore at the top of the key.
Ricky Doyle had a slam for the Wolverines before two more highlight plays by Tolbert in 33 seconds, the later on an alley-oop pass from Nic Moore that put SMU up 31-20.
Tolbert again had consecutive slams for SMU baskets midway through the second half, first on another pass from Moore and then a two-handed dunk with 11:16 left for a 59-45 lead.
"I respect our team right now so much," Jankovich said. "They were put in a tough spot and made it look like it really wasn’t a tough spot."
Michigan: Leading scorer Caris LeVert had only five points, 14 below his season average. He shot 1 for 13. … Michigan was 10 of 36 on 3-pointers.
SMU: The Mustangs are 5-0 at home this season, 39-3 since the start of 2013-14. … SMU had a 45-20 rebounding advantage.
Former President George W. Bush, whose presidential library is across the street from Moody Coliseum, attended the game along with his wife, Laura. Also in the sellout crowd of 7,245 were Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons.
DAY OF TRAVEL
After their plane got grounded because of fog Monday night, the Wolverines traveled and played on the same day. Abdur-Rahkman and Robinson both said that wasn’t an excuse, and that they likely got more sleep the previous night by being at home.