GARLAND, Texas -- Markus Kennedy scored a team-high 14 points off the bench and Yanick Moreira recorded his first major-college double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds as SMU's front court continued its early-season dominance in the Mustangs' 72-53 victory over Sam Houston State on Tuesday night.
SMU improved to 5-1 in its second home game as part of the Corpus Christi Challenge. The Mustangs will continue with games in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday against Virginia.
The Bearkats dropped to 4-2 with their second consecutive loss. They were led by Paul Baxter with 19 points, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
SMU outscored Sam Houston 32-16 in points in the paint, out-rebounding the Bearkats 46-20.
Nick Russell added 13 points for the Mustangs.
Kennedy, a sophomore forward, transferred from Villanova. Moreira transferred to SMU after leading South Plains College of Lubbock, Texas to a 36-0 record in 2011-12 and the NJCAA national championship.
In six games, SMU has scored 44.7 percent of its points in the paint. Larry Brown, the Mustangs' second-year Hall of Fame coach, has bemoaned getting enough minutes for all of his big men when usually playing a three-guard lineup.
Freshman center Ben Moore topped the team with 19 points in 19 minutes off the bench when the Mustangs played at Arkansas on Nov. 18, their only defeat. Since then, Moore has logged an average of 13 minutes.
Cannen Cunningham is a junior center who started all 32 games last season, when Brown's first SMU team went 15-17, and averaged 32 minutes. He has played no more than 12 minutes in a game so far with season.
The Mustangs never trailed, racing to a 9-1 advantage four minutes into the first half. They built their lead to 22 points with about four minutes to play in the half and led 38-20 at intermission.
Sam Houston fought back in the second half to cut the SMU lead to 12 points; with 13:58 remaining, they equaled the number of field goals and turnovers (11) for the first time in the game. But the Mustangs used baskets by Moreira and Kennedy to bolster their lead to 24 in the closing minutes.