SMU Prepares for Rematch With UNT

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SMU and North Texas will meet on the basketball court for the second time this season on Sunday in Dallas, separated by just one game in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The two teams met two weeks ago in Denton with a shot at first place on the line and delivered a defensive classic as North Texas survived 68-66 on a missed three-pointer from SMU’s Jalen Smith.

Not much has changed since that game. Both squads still have a top-four AAC finish within reach, but SMU now has the upper hand with a 7-3 conference record — good enough for fourth place and just two games behind South Florida for the conference lead.

The Mustangs followed the January 25 loss to the Mean Green with a five-point road loss to Wichita State but have rallied to win three in a row, although they faced only one opponent (UAB) with a winning conference record over that stretch.

SMU has played several close games against the upper echelon of the AAC, priding itself on elite defense, but has just one win over a team with a winning record in conference play this season.

“This is a tough conference,” SMU guard Zhuric Phelps told the media after the win over UAB. “Every team here is good, and we’ve got to lock in and trust our defense. … Even if we’re missing shots, our defense is going to hold up its end of the bargain.”

Meanwhile, UNT faced stiffer competition after its win over SMU. The Mean Green has lost three of its last four and hopes to get back on track with a crucial and necessary road win.

North Texas enters the weekend in sixth place in the AAC, trailing South Florida, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, SMU, and UAB.

Seven teams appear to still have a shot at winning the conference, and a UNT win would pull the Mean Green even with SMU in terms of conference record and give North Texas a distinct 2-0 advantage over the Mustangs when it comes to potential tiebreakers for the postseason.

SMU (16-7, 7-3 in the AAC) and UNT (13-9, 6-4) will tip off at 1 p.m. CT at SMU’s Moody Coliseum.

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