DALLAS — Southern Methodist sandwiched a major run around halftime in pulling away to an 82-54 win over East Carolina on Wednesday night in the American Athletic Conference opener for both programs.
After freshman Jayden Gardner made a short jumper to give the Pirates an 18-15 lead with 9:16 left in the half, SMU went on a 20-7 spree for a 35-25 advantage at the break.
The Mustangs (9-4) had a 10-0 flurry in the opening 2:06 of the second half to take control.
Gardner led ECU (7-6) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Tyler Foster had 11 points for the Pirates.
ECU struggled with its shooting, making 19 of 56 field goal attempts for 33.9 percent. The Pirates were three for 15 behind the arc (20 percent) and 13 for 22 at the line (59.1 percent).
Jahmal Murray had 20 points and four assists as SMU won for the seventh time in its last eight games.
The hosts had a 45-31 rebounding advantage.
Isaac Fleming and Shawn Williams had eight points each in the loss. Fleming and Williams each had three assists.
K.J. Davis added six points for the Pirates.
ECU returns home to take on Cincinnati (12-2) on Saturday at noon. The Bearcats won their AAC opener, 93-61, over visiting Tulane on Wednesday night.