SMU-East Carolina Preview
Larry Brown is feeling better and ready to help SMU remain undefeated.
The veteran coach will be back on the sideline as the visiting No. 10 Mustangs look to continue the best start in school history and open 4-0 on the road for the first time in over 80 years with a win against East Carolina on Wednesday night.
Brown was back running practice Monday, one day after he missed the second half of SMU's 88-73 win over UCF because of dizziness.
"I'm going to be all right," he said. "With me, if I turn the wrong way, or if I jump up too quickly ... I lose some equilibrium. Maybe it's because I'm 75, and I don't realize it."
Brown said fatigue, dehydration and a virus aggravated symptoms he's dealt with in the past, including fluid in his ears. But he appears ready to return as the Mustangs (15-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) look to continue a strong start to a season in which NCAA sanctions won't allow them to compete in any postseason competition.
"We're just trying to stay undefeated," freshman Jarrey Foster said. "As long as we stay undefeated, we don't have to worry about anybody else. That's been the goal since we found out about the sanctions."
Halfway through its 30-game schedule, SMU and 19th-ranked South Carolina are the only remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.
Cracking the top 10 for the first time since February 1985, the Mustangs lead the AAC in points per game (81.6) and in field-goal (52.1) and 3-point (43.1) percentages. They're second in points allowed (62.7) and yield a AAC-low 28.4 rebounds per contest.
"It means a lot but we're still looking forward to the next game," said forward Jordan Tolbert, who had 19 points Sunday.
Following an 81-69 win at Tulsa in its league opener Dec. 29, SMU can improve to 4-0 on the road for the first time since the 1934-35 season. Leading scorer Nic Moore (16.1 points per game) has averaged 22.0 points and shot 46.8 percent on the road, where SMU as a team is connecting at an even better 51.7 clip.
Moore scored 20 in last season's 74-68 win over East Carolina in the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament. The Mustangs, who won both 2014-15 meetings with the Pirates (8-8, 0-3), have split four road meetings but last played there in February 2012.
Looking to avoid its second 0-4 league start in three seasons, East Carolina averaged 78.9 points and shot 49.7 percent to go 7-0 at home in nonconference action, but hit 34.8 percent of its shots in a 71-68 loss there to UCF in its AAC opener Jan. 2.
The Pirates followed by averaging 51.5 points while losing at Tulsa and Temple by a combined 30 points.
Leading scorer B.J. Tyson (14.1 ppg) has averaged 9.5 points and shot 28.0 percent while ECU has gone 0-6 on the road, but he's scored 20.0 per game while shooting 60.6 percent in the last six at home.
Teammate Caleb White (13.7 ppg) had 14 points in each meeting with SMU last season.
The Pirates have dropped 23 in a row against ranked opponents since beating then-No. 13 Marquette on Dec. 30, 2002.
It's uncertain if SMU guard Keith Frazier (11.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists per game) will miss a fourth consecutive game due to personal reasons.