In the new era of SMU basketball, tickets are hard to get. Saturday’s game against No. 7 Cincinnati has been sold out for a couple of weeks.

Seating is a problem for coach Larry Brown, too. Determining who sits may be the most difficult part of his job.

So much so that he talked to the team about playing time before Friday’s practice.

“There have been a lot of games where I’ve gone home feeling bad, feeling like somebody didn’t play enough, because they deserved to play,” Brown said. “I’m not comfortable with that.”

Brown hoped that distributing minutes would get easier as the season progressed. Instead, it has only intensified with so many young players improving with each game.

Ten Mustangs are averaging at least 12.2 minutes. Guards Nic Moore (31.7) and Nick Russell (30.7) and post Markus Kennedy (24.4) have the most.

Brown has been able to send waves of guards and forwards at opponents. Yanick Moreira, Ryan Manuel, Shawn Williams, Sterling Brown and Keith Frazier are averaging between 17.2 and 18.4 minutes.

The Mustangs have improved with so much competition for playing time. Players know they must make the most of each minute. They are averaging 28.7 points off the bench.

In the 75-52 victory over Temple, five Mustangs scored at least 10 points. They have had five double-digit scorers in consecutive games for the first time since 2003.

Freshman Ben Moore finished with 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 15 minutes against the Owls. He is averaging 13.9 minutes.

Because of their versatility, players are used in a variety of roles, depending on matchups.

Freshman Sterling Brown, a 6-6 guard, scored only two points, but contributed five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. And freshman Keith Frazier was an outside force with three 3-pointers, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and a block in 20 minutes.

Brown’s rebuilding project is based on defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball. And did we mention defense? Anyone who wants more minutes must guard.

“If everybody buys into defense, that makes it fun,” Moore said. “It’s focusing, staying disciplined and buying into what Coach Brown is saying. You have to buy in as a team because you can’t do it individually.”

SMU ranks third nationally in field goal percentage defense (37.2) and 18th in scoring defense (61.3). The Mustangs have held opponents to 25 or fewer points in the first half 10 times.

With fresh legs, the Mustangs swarm to the basket. They have outrebounded 20 of their 23 opponents. They rank first in the American Athletic Conference and 16th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-7.3). And they have outscored all but one opponent in the paint.