by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, February 11th, 2018


BY: Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                                                  Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The Cincinnati Bearcats met little resistance from the shorthanded SMU Mustangs Sunday afternoon in Moody Coliseum. A crowd of 6,935 watched the sixth ranked Bearcats easily put SMU away by the score of 76 -51. The Bearcats tenacious defense held the Mustangs to a season low in points scored in route to winning their 16th game in a row. Cincinnati’s record improved to 23-2 overall and 12-0 in American Conference play. They lead second place Wichita State and Houston for the conference championship by three games with six to play. SMU fell to 15-10 and 5-7. They are tied with Memphis and Connecticut for seventh place in the conference race.

SMU came into the game even more shorthanded than usual. Jarrey Foster and Everett Ray were already out for the season. Shake Milton was a game time decision, but did not play for the third straight game. Ethan Chargois joined the sidelines with a sprained ankle; an injury incurred Sunday morning at SMU’s shoot-around. The Mustangs went into play with just six scholarship players.

The combination of no Shake for SMU and Cincinnati’s defense left the Mustangs virtually toothless on the offensive end of the court. Cincinnati ranks second in the nation in scoring defense. The Mustangs got few good looks at the basket and often were forced to take rushed shots at the end of the shot clock. They shot just 25.7% in the first half and made just one three point shot in 13 attempts as Cincinnati built an 11 point halftime lead at 32-21.

Any suspense about the outcome of the game was dispelled quickly in the second half. The Bearcats opened the half by scoring the first 17 points in less than five minutes. It only got worse from there. Cincinnati pushed the lead to as much as 35 points at 60-35. The Mustangs caught some life at that point and finished off the game with 26 points to just 16 for Cincinnati to cut the final deficit to 25.

Jahmal McMurray and Jimmy Whitt, Jr., led the Mustangs in scoring with 19 points apiece. McMurray played 38 minutes, while Whitt played the entire game. Akoy Agau led the Mustangs’ rebounding effort with a career high 13. He also played a season high 30 minutes. Walk-on James Pyle played the last eight minutes of the game to set his season high. He played in part because of an injury to Ben Emelogu. Emelogu left the game holding his right hand with his left, and finished the game on the SMU bench with his right hand in a bag of ice. There was no immediate report as to the seriousness of the injury.

Three point shooting is one of the Mustangs’ formidable weapons, especially at home. It didn’t happen in this game though, as SMU made just four three pointers in 24 attempts (16.7%). For the game, SMU shot 32.2% as opposed to 44.4% for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati played 11 players and 10 of them scored. Only two played as many as 20 minutes – forward Jacob Evans with 28 minutes and guard Jarron Cumberland with 25. Kyle Washington led the Bearcats with 17 points while playing only 18 minutes. Cumberland and conference player of the year contender Gary Clark were the other two double digit scorers with 12 and 11 points respectively.

“Injuries are no one’s fault. Injuries are luck,” SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said after the game. “Last year, we were the luckiest team in America, because we basically played six guys 39 minutes and nobody ever got hurt except once. Because luck evens out, we knew we’d get some injuries. However, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never been in a program with four players out. I’ve never seen three starters out. To be lucky enough to be in the program that the NCAA took away more of our scholarships than any other team in the history of basketball. I was always a little mad about that. Now when you have the bad luck, it seems so surreal. It feels just very, very unfair to an awful lot of people. To me the attitude is how bad these guys were cheated. This was a great basketball team at one time. This team with eight players beat Arizona and USC. We won at Wichita without Jarrey (Foster). You don’t even know the half of it. It’s not just the guys sitting over there with the crutches. We’ve got other guys. We’ve got two healthy guys right now. The mood for me to them is it feels very unfair. We’re not even remotely close to the team that we were building heading to February.”

He did note that the injuries have helped freshmen guards Elijah Landrum and William Douglas. “I think they’re playing well. I see them making more and more plays and getting more confident. If there is a silver lining, it is that they are being put in a role that will definitely help them.”

SMU has now lost three straight games and four of the last five. They have basically bowed out of the opportunity to earn an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament. They in all likelihood are scrambling to get invited to the NIT.   The next game against Memphis is critical to a chance to play beyond the conference post-season tournament. The Memphis Tigers come to Moody Coliseum this Wednesday for the only game between these two schools in this year’s conference schedule. The Tigers are 14-11 for the season and 5-7 in AAC play. The game will be televised on ESPNU. Start time is 8:00 PM (Central).


  • SEEN AT THE GAME: Former President and First Lady, George W. and Laura Bush.
  • Sunday’s game was the most lopsided loss in the Mustangs’ AAC history. The previous bad loss was last month against Cincinnati by a 76-56 score.
Displaying 1 Comments
Add Your Comment
  1. Karl Koenig says:

    Dic, Your usual great summary, but at the least, not fun to read. Watched every minute, and that wasn’t fun either. The overall thinness is a killer, but I applaud their efforts and Jankovich’s attitude and honesty. Will keep looking for a bit of silver lining….KK

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>