- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - Long before SMU was pulling off upset victories at home before sellout crowds, Moody Madness had a much different meaning.

These days, the term finally applies to the home-team Mustangs.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been lucky enough to be places where the crowd actually has mattered and made us play better than we know how,” SMU coach Larry Brown said. “I know it affects teams, especially young kids coming in here, with an environment like this.”

Three decades after an unusual Dallas Mavericks’ playoff game on the SMU campus spawned Moody Madness, the Mustangs are undefeated at home this season. SMU has won all seven games since moving back into the renovated Moody Coliseum last month, three of those convincingly over Top 25 teams after going 10 years without a victory anywhere against a ranked team.

“We’re all happy with the way the team has performed and the way the students and the fans have created an unbelievable atmosphere in Moody, the way the building turned out,” athletic director Rick Hart said.

The Mustangs (20-6, 9-4 American Athletic Conference), trying to get to their first NCAA tournament since 1993, are back home Wednesday night to play Houston (12-13, 4-8).

SMU beat then-No. 7 Cincinnati 76-55 in its last home game Feb. 8, and students rushed to court to celebrate the upset that ended the Bearcats’ 15-game winning streak. That, along with earlier home wins against UConn (74-65) and Memphis (87-72), propelled the Mustangs to their first Top 25 ranking since 1985.

There have been sellout crowds for four games already and every ticket for the remaining three have already been sold. The seven sellouts will be a single-season school record.

“It’s awesome to see where they’ve been and to see the interest level and the new arena kind of bringing college basketball excitement back to the Metroplex,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I think it’s really cool.”

For locals, Moody Madness has long referred to that 1984 NBA playoff game, when the Mavericks had to play the deciding Game 5 of their first-round series at SMU. Moody was about half the size of Reunion Arena, but their usual home then was unavailable because of a previously scheduled World Championship Tennis tournament. The Mavs beat Seattle 105-104 in overtime to clinch their first playoff series victory.

Hart was hired at SMU in July 2012, weeks after Brown took over a team that finished the previous season losing 11 of its last 14 games.

Asked if he expected the Mustangs to excel on the court so quickly, Hart said he’s not so sure he would have affirmatively answered that way when he first got to SMU. But he’s not that surprised now.

“I’ve been around the program. I’ve known what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Hart said. “I believe we have the best coaching staff in the country. And Larry’s done a great job surrounding himself with talented people who complement his strengths.”

The Mustangs played two road games last week after debuting at No. 23 in the AP poll. They won at Rutgers in a game pushed back a day by a winter storm, but then lost 71-64 at Temple, a team that had lost 10 of its previous 11 AAC games.

Three of SMU’s last five regular-season games are at home, including another of the AAC’s ranked teams. After Houston, the Mustangs still have home games against UCF and No. 11 Louisville.

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