by Dan M | Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018


BY: Dic  Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                                      Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The game time temperature Sunday night was 28 degrees (F), but inside Moody Coliseum, the Mustangs overcame a sluggish start to annihilate the South Florida Bulls 79-39. SMU shot a blistering 63% in the second half to breeze past USF Sunday night before an ESNPU audience and an announced crowd of 6,477.

The Mustangs’ record improved to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in American Athletic Conference play. South Florida fell to 7-8 and 0-2.

The sluggish start lasted more than 13 minutes for SMU. With 6:49 remaining until halftime, the score was tied 11-11. It was the usual suspects causing SMU to mis-fire – too many turnovers and too many ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. The Mustangs defense kicked in at that point to take control of the game by finishing the half with a 17-5 run to lead 28-16 at intermission. At one point, Jimmy Whitt stole four passes in the span of 1:20 to fuel the defensive surge.

“Our best offense was our great defense in the first half,” Head Coach Tim Jankovich said after the game. “Defense, defensive rebounding, forcing turnovers couldn’t have been better.”

SMU began the second half right where they left off at the end of the first. The Ponies scored the first 13 points to essentially put the game away at 41-16. The lead grew to as many as 44 points even though the bench clearing began with about nine minutes left in the game.

“We looked out of character in the first half,” Jankovich added. “I am glad that it completely changed around in the second half. It was like new guys came out of the locker room and played just the way you want them to. A very, very good second half on both ends of the floor.”

12 Mustangs saw action in this game, with the 10 scholarship players each seeing at least 10 minutes on the floor. 11 players scored including walk-on Luke Wilfong’s first three point basket of his career.   Shake Milton led the Mustangs’ scorers with 14 points. Jarrey Foster and Jahmal McMurray chipped in with 12 points each. It was McMurray’s third game to reach double digits after becoming eligible four games ago.   Jimmy Whitt was SMU’s fourth double digit scorer with 11 points.

SMU overwhelmed the Bulls on the boards 44-28, with Whitt leading with nine. They garnered 18 assists on 28 made baskets. Six Mustangs dished out two or more with Elijah Landrum leading with four. Whitt’s four steals are a new career high.

It was an especially sweet win for Jahmal McMurray. He played for South Florida before transferring. Jankovich said that he was worried about how McMurray would control his emotions against the Bulls, but chose not to discuss emotions with him before the game. “Hardly any of the guys that he played with are there, and all the coaches are gone. They had a lot of issues there. There was a huge turnover at South Florida. It was a rough situation. I felt like he would approach it pretty much like any other game. He’s been a huge lift for this basketball team once he got eligible for the Boise State game.”

SMU, Tulsa and Houston are all 2-0 atop the AAC standings. The two ranked teams in the polls – Wichita State and Cincinnati – are 1-0. Tulane and Central Florida are 1-1, while the rest of the conference is winless in the early going.

The Mustangs start 2018 on the road with games at Tulane on Thursday (January 4) and Cincinnati on Sunday (January 7). Cincinnati is ranked 21st in this week’s AP Poll and 22nd in the USA Today’s Coaches Poll.  The Tulane game’s start time is 8:00 PM (Central), and it will be televised on ESPNU.


  • Ben Emelogu came into Sunday’s game leading the nation in three point shooting percentage at 62.1% and went 1-3 in Sunday’s game to bring his three point shooting percentage down to 60.7%. Ethan Chargois was fifth in the AAC in three point shooting percentage at 44.4% coming into the game, and he also made one of three from beyond the arc.
  • The Mustangs’ home winning streak was extended to 33 games. Cincinnati is the only team in the NCAA with a longer current streak at 34 games after they beat Memphis earlier Sunday afternoon.
  • SMU recorded a season high 13 steals in the game with eight players getting credited with at least one.

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