TIGERS SNUFF OUT MUSTANGS

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

5472824

 

 

 

 

BY: Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                                                   Member USBWA

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The underdog Memphis Tigers came to Moody Coliseum Wednesday night and may have snuffed out the SMU Mustangs’ waning glimmer of hope for a post-season tournament bid. The Tigers took control of the game with an early 16-3 run, and then held off the Mustangs’ furious second half charge for a 70-67 win. SMU drops to 15-11 for the season and 5-8 in conference play. The Mustangs are now ninth in the conference standings, just a game ahead of Tulane and East Carolina. Memphis is 15-11 on the season and 6-7 in conference play. These two teams could easily meet again in the first round of the American Athletic Conference post-season tournament.

“This was a tough one,” Head Coach Tim Jankovich said about the game. “I thought our effort was tremendous. My gosh! How hard can they play! (I’m) really proud of the effort.” He noted a strong indicator of the effort that the Mustangs had 20 offensive rebounds and missed 33 shots, a tremendous percentage for second chance points. The Mustangs got 16 second chance points to just nine for the Tigers.

SMU got off to a good start scoring the first basket and building a six point lead at 14-8 eight minutes into the game. That’s the point that Memphis took over with the 16-3 run. SMU scored just six points over the final 12 minutes to trail by nine at the half, 29-20. It was clearly one of the worst halves of basketball the team has played this year. Offensively, they looked totally confused by the Memphis 2-3 zone defense. The Mustangs worked the ball around the perimeter leading to rushed shots late in the 30 second clock. The Ponies shot just 25% from the field, and only went to the free throw line twice.

In the second half, the Mustang came out energized. They used dribble penetration to move the ball inside. The result was much better shot selection either inside the paint or wide open threes after a kick-out. SMU simply could not get enough defensive stops to win. They twice tied the game at 38 and 47, but Memphis answered each charge. The Mustangs cut the deficit to two points with 45 seconds left in the game, but couldn’t come up with a defensive stop to set up a chance to win or tie on the final possession.

SMU was again missing Jarrey Foster and Shake Milton. Foster is out for the season after knee surgery, and it is becoming apparent that Milton, who is listed as “day-to-day”, will not be back this year. Ethan Chargois missed last Sunday’s game with an ankle sprain, but he was able to play Wednesday, though he didn’t start. Ben Emelogu left last Sunday’s game holding his right wrist. He played, though he was just 1-7 from the field for three points. First half foul trouble limited Chargois to four minutes. Neither Emelogu nor Chargois scored in the first half, and Jankovich was forced to play walk-on James Pyle before halftime.

The Mustangs stayed in the game though by a truly spectacular performance from Jahmal McMurray. He scored 10 of the 20 first half points, and then lit up the scoreboard for 23 more in the second half to lead the comeback. He made nine three point shots to become the second Mustang to score 33 points in a game this year, the most scored by a Mustang this season. The nine three point baskets are also a new school record. (Nic Moore and Bryan Hopkins held the old record with eight.)

“Just staying confident and knowing that my team needed me to take tough shots and make tough shots,” was McMurray’s explanation for his scoring outburst. “With our key players out right now, it’s just about stepping up and being a leader.”

Jimmy Whitt, Jr. was the only other Mustang in double digits with 16 points. Emelogu despite his scoring struggles was the game’s leading rebounder with 10. Whitt and Elijah Landrum led the Ponies with five assists each. Whitt also tied his career high with five steals.

10 Tigers played in the game which did NOT include their leading scorer – Jeremiah Martin. Five of the 10 scored in double digits led by Mike Parks, Jr. with 17. Kareem Brewton, Jr. followed with 16. Kyvon Davenport had 13. Raynere Thornton came off the Tigers’ bench for 12 and Jamal Johnson had 10. Brewton led the Tigers with six assists, and Thornton pulled down nine rebounds.

The announced attendance for the game was 6,539, which put the Mustangs over 100,000 for the fifth straight season. A large contingent of that attendance was season ticket holders that did not attend the game as the coliseum was only about 50% occupied. Of particular concern was the lack of attendance by students. The student sections on the east and west sides of the arena were largely vacant, and the center section on the south side wasn’t jammed.

The Mustangs are on the road for the next two games. This Saturday, they are in Orlando for an early start against Central Florida. Game time is 11:00 AM locally (10:00 AM Central). The Knights are 7-6 in conference play (16-9 overall) and are tied with Temple for fifth place in the conference standings. They are just one game in the loss column behind Tulsa in the battle for a first round bye in the conference tournament. ESPNU is televising the game.

NOTABLE:

  • SEEN AT THE GAME: Nic Moore, former Mustang All-American, who was twice the American Athletic Conference “Player of the Year”.
  • William Douglas made his first career start Wednesday night. A nice touch for Coach Jankovich as Douglas is from Memphis.
Tags
Displaying 1 Comments
Add Your Comment
  1. Karl Koenig says:

    Dic; As you know, a hard game to watch in light of the injuries. But, I am proud of their efforts, nonetheless, as Jankovich mentioned. They never stop trying, and hopefully that will spill into next year’s new season . Hope you’re doing well; see you at PCPC….

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>