SMU returns to Moody with upset of UConn

Posted Saturday, Jan. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Larry Brown scurried to find a microphone after the players had jubilantly headed into the locker room and the elated fans were heading toward the exits. He wanted to make an announcement after leading SMU to its biggest win in a decade.

And, once the Hall of Fame coach began speaking, everyone stopped in place. He thanked the fans and donors for making the first game at the newly renovated Moody Coliseum special, and ended his brief speech by saying: “I’m going to celebrate with my family tonight.”

The crowd broke into more cheers. Brown could have said almost anything and it would have been applauded. Brown has put SMU back on the basketball map and nothing said it more than a 74-65 victory over No. 17 Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.

It marked the Mustangs’ first victory over a ranked opponent since they defeated 17th-ranked Purdue on Dec. 17, 2003, and their first home win over a ranked opponent since beating 25th-ranked Houston on Jan. 30, 1993.

It all came in front of an announced crowd of 7,166 in the 7,000-seat venue that underwent a $47 million renovation. The last time SMU hosted a capacity crowd was in November 2001 against Texas Tech.

Does SMU finally have a home-court advantage?

“Oh, it will be,” said senior guard Nick Russell, an Arlington Grace Prep product. “It’s all about winning games, and I feel like the fans appreciate it. I’m sure they’ll come back and see us. Every game will be a big game here, and every game will be a packed crowd.”

The renovation falls in line with other area schools putting money into their basketball venues. UT Arlington opened the $78 million College Park Center in February 2012, and TCU has plans for a $45 million renovation to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

For SMU, the renovated arena is another step in the right direction. The 73-year-old Brown has brought credibility to a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993.

Brown has assembled one of the top staffs in the country, and not many other coaches could have former NBA stars such as Dikembe Mutombo and Avery Johnson come to the game.

Brown hoped that another one of his former players, Allen Iverson, would make the trip but didn’t.

“I have an advantage in some ways because I was lucky enough to coach some of the best players who ever played,” said Brown, the only coach to win an NCAA championship and NBA championship.

“Those people have meant a lot to me in my life.”

The former NBA players were joined by potentially future NBA players. Brown has made SMU a possible destination for some of the top prospects in the country. Emmanuel Mudiay, a senior at Dallas Prime Prep who is regarded as a top-five recruit, has signed with SMU for next season. And a handful of highly touted players in the 2015 class were on hand, including Elijah Thomas (Lancaster), Tyler Davis (Plano West), King McClure (Dallas Triple A Academy) and D’jery Baptiste (Dallas Episcopal).

SMU wanted to take full advantage of unveiling its updated arena that opened in 1956, a year SMU made its lone Final Four run. The upgrades included a new main entry lobby, expanded concourses with raised ceilings, club seats and private suites and a 9-by-24-foot video board.

In doing the renovation, SMU officials visited several arenas throughout the country, notably Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, Duke’s Cameron Indoor and Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena.

“I had no idea the building would be as beautiful as it is,” Brown said. “I worried about losing some of the history, worried that it might not be as loud … but it’s just as loud as it’s always been.

“I don’t think any other program can think they have more than us. We’re in a great league, got a great school, a great city.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Kansas City 10/24 8:07 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
110th World Series, Game Three. Series tied, 1-1.
Full Scoreboard
Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Dallas 10/24 7:00 PM ET
New York 10/24 7:30 PM ET
Toronto TV: MSG, TSN2
Minnesota 10/24 8:00 PM ET
Chicago TV: CSN-CHI
San Antonio 10/24 8:00 PM ET
Miami 10/24 8:00 PM ET
Memphis TV: Sun Sports
Phoenix 10/24 9:00 PM ET
Sacramento 10/24 10:00 PM ET
LA Lakers TV: TWC SN, D
Denver 10/24 10:30 PM ET
Golden State TV: CSN-Bay
Portland 10/24 10:30 PM ET
LA Clippers TV: FSN-PT, NBA TV
Full Scoreboard
Week 8Full Scoreboard
San Diego21Final | Box
Denver «35Gridiron Replay
Detroit 9:30 AM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Seattle 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Miami 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FOX
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Indianapolis 4:25 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: NBC
Washington 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, October 24Full Scoreboard
Dallas 10/24 7:00 PM ET
New Jersey TV: FSN-SW, MSG+
Tampa Bay 10/24 8:00 PM ET
Winnipeg TV: SUN, TSN3
Vancouver 10/24 9:00 PM ET
Colorado TV: TVA 2, SNE, SNO, SNP, Alt
Carolina 10/24 9:30 PM ET
Edmonton TV: SPSO, SN-W
Columbus 10/24 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim TV: FSN-OH, FSN-PT
Full Scoreboard