Published January 08, 2015
Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Markus Kennedy scored 18 points, Nick Russell had 15 and No. 23 SMU beat UCF 70-55 on Saturday to win its first home game as a ranked team in 29 years.
Nic Moore added 13 points and Ryan Manuel scored 10 for the Mustangs (23-6, 12-4 American), who have won three in a row and 12 of their last 14 games.
Isaiah Sykes had 18 points to lead UCF (11-16, 3-13), which has lost three of four.
Ranked in the top 25 this season for the first time since 1985, SMU continues to look like a lock to make its first NCAA tournament since 1993.
Saturday's game was the first for the Mustangs at home as a ranked team since March 9, 1985. The next will come Wednesday against No. 7 Louisville, which fell to Memphis on Saturday. SMU also has a regular-season game left against Memphis.
Mustangs coach Larry Brown, despite the 15-point win, said he didn't like the way his team played.
"I have a lot of respect for Central Florida. I watched them come back the other night from 19 down," Brown said. "But we didn't play like a ranked team. We took bad shots."
SMU moved to 15-0 as the home team this season, leading all the way against UCF after opening the game on an 18-4 run. Russell had 10 points during the surge, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers.
The Mustangs held the Knights to 37.5 percent shooting, including 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
UCF cut its deficit to four points with a 13-3 surge later in the first half but SMU built its lead to 34-23 at halftime and it wasn't in single digits again until late in the second half.
Kennedy had five points in a 6-1 burst that moved it back to double digits for the last 1 1/2 minutes.
UCF's remaining regular-season games are against Temple and Houston ... SMU beat UCF on the road 58-46 on Jan. 18.