Rhody’s second game of the 2013-14 season will come against a relatively familiar opponent. The Rams faced off against the SMU Mustangs last year at the Ryan Center, picking up a 72-50 victory over Larry Brown’s squad. The one difference between last year and this year is Southern Methodist’s conference. After spending the past eight seasons in Conference USA, the Mustangs have moved on… up? Sideways? Either way, they’re now playing in the newly formed American Athletic Conference.
2012-13 Record: 15-17 (5-11 in Conference USA)
Key Losses: F Uche Ofoegbu, G London Giles, G Brian Bernardi
Key Returners: G Jalen Jones, G Nick Russell, C Cannen Cunningham
Player to Watch: G Jalen Jones
SMU returns all five starters from a year ago, so most Rhody fans have some general knowledge of any “player to watch” that we might toss out there. But the Mustangs leader in points and rebounds last season is certainly someone to keep an eye on. The 6’7″ guard posted 14.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, and could be poised for an even better year this time around. Against the Rams last December, Jones dropped 14 points on 6-8 shooting and pulled down nine boards. He also committed five turnovers, so the Rhody D will have to turn in a similar performance in order to snag a victory this season.
Prediction: Rhode Island 67 – SMU 61
Unlike last year’s affair, the Rams will be on the road for this match-up. And while SMU will be returning essentially the same team, they’re more experienced than last year’s (relatively) young group. Luckily for Rhody, they’re also a much improved team, so while this year’s contest will be closer, we still think URI will come out on top.