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Moore leads No. 16 SMU past Gonzaga

Moore leads No. 16 SMU past Gonzaga
Published On: Sun, Feb 14
Nov 14, 2014; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs Bomb Squad perform against the Sacramento State Hornets during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

DALLAS -- The shooting and playmaking of point guard Nic Moore paved the way for No. 16 SMU in a 69-60 win over Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Moore had 25 points and 11 assists as SMU (21-3) rebounded from a rare loss on its home floor Wednesday night to Tulsa.

"I listen to a lot of TV and you always hear about these player of the year guys and most valuable players. It was neat watching Nic tonight," SMU coach Larry Brown said. "What he did tonight, in this kind of environment, it makes you feel pretty darn good."

Gonzaga (20-6) was plagued by poor shooting much of the night. The Bulldogs finished at 37.7 percent from the field for the game.

Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer struggled most of all. Wiltjer, who averages 21.8 points per game, went 2 of 17 from the field and 0 of 8 from 3-point range to finish with a season-low four points.

At one point, Wiltjer missed three shots in a row on the same possession.

Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis dominated inside with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Guard Silas Melson added 12 points and guard Kyle Dranginis scored 11 for Gonzaga.

But not even Sabonis' numbers could match Moore's ability to create and score. In addition to Moore's 25 points, forward Ben Moore added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field.

"We ran into a heck of a player in Nic Moore," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "And almost absorbed a cold shooting night by Wiltjer thanks to Sabonis and Melson, but just couldn't get enough going on the offensive end."

SMU trailed 41-36 with 14 minutes to play but surged to a 57-49 lead with 6:30 left on an 11-3 run fueled by Moore.

Moore finished off the run with a 3-pointer when Gonzaga's defense left him unguarded at the top of the key. Later, Moore hit a floater on a drive from the same spot to put SMU up 59-52 with 5:42 left. He then hit both ends of a one-and-one to push the Mustangs' lead to 61-52 with 4:38 left.

A layup by forward Ben Moore gave SMU its first double-digit lead at 63-52 with 3:15 remaining. Gonzaga, which had won six in a row, failed to score in the final 1:11.

Gonzaga, playing its fourth consecutive road game, also ran out of gas at the end of the first half.

"I'm the one who set this thing up," Few said. "It was going to be tough for anybody -- Carolina, Duke, Arizona, anyone. We had to play four road games in a row in February. I don't think anybody in America is doing that."

Nic Moore said the Mustangs rallied around the challenge of not losing two in a row at Moody Coliseum. SMU is 46-4 at home since the start of the 2013-14 season.

But the Mustangs, barred from postseason play because of NCAA violations, also saw the mid-February nonconference matchup as a way to show what might have been.

"Every year Gonzaga goes to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight. They've got a great coach, great team," Moore said. "It just shows that we have the type of team that could play in the tournament, win some games, maybe go deep ourselves."

SMU took a 30-27 lead into halftime after going on a 12-1 run.

Gonzaga's last field goal of the half came with 6:48 left. The Bulldogs' lone point the rest of the half was a free throw by guard Eric McClellan with 36 seconds left.

Before SMU's run, Gonzaga built a 26-18 lead with 3-pointers by Melson, McClellan and Dranginis.

During SMU's surge to intermission, Sabonis was assessed a flagrant foul that resulted in SMU guard Jarrey Foster being helped off the court. Foster later returned.

Gonzaga shot just 30 percent from the field (9 of 30) to SMU's 39 percent (11 of 28) in the first half.

NOTES: Former President George W. Bush spoke to the SMU players in the locker room before the game, then sat courtside with former First Lady Laura Bush. The Bushes are frequent attendees at SMU games. Bush's presidential library is on SMU's campus. ... Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett sat behind the baseline next to SMU's bench. ...Teams that have defeated SMU this season have not fared well in their next game. Temple lost 64-61 at East Carolina, Houston lost 77-63 at Tulsa, and Tulsa lost 75-73 at Connecticut on Saturday ...This is the second time Gonzaga and SMU have met. Gonzaga defeated SMU 72-56 in Spokane, Wash., last season. ... Gonzaga F Domantas Sabonis came into the game averaging a double-double with 17.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.

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Name Pos
Semi Ojeleye F
Nic Moore G
Ben Moore F
Jordan Tolbert F
Ben Emelogu G
Markus Kennedy F
Keith Frazier G
Jonathan Wilfong G
Sterling Brown G
Jarrey Foster G
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