UConn Ends SMU’s Four Game Winning Streak

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2019

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BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                      Member – United States Basketball Writers Association

The University of Connecticut Huskies beat the SMU Mustangs Thursday night at the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut 76-64.  Connecticut’s win halted the Huskies’ three game losing streak, and SMU’s loss ended a four game winning streak.  UCONN’s three starting guards combined for 51 points to lead the way.  SMU shot especially poorly from three point range (3-23) for only 13% dooming them to lose.  

It was the first conference win of the season for the Huskies and the first conference loss for the Mustangs.  Connecticut improves to 10-6 for the season and 1-2 in conference play, while SMU falls to 10-5 and 2-1.  Central Florida at 2-0 is the only remaining undefeated team in American Athletic Conference play.

The teams played a competitive first half early.  SMU took their first lead at 12-11, and held a lead for more than six minutes in the first half.  However, they ran into foul trouble with four starters and Feron Hunt off the bench each getting tagged with two fouls.  SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich has largely played a seven man rotation, but the foul trouble forced him to play seldom used C. J. White and William Douglas.  With so many starters on the bench, the Huskies pulled away to 42-31 halftime lead, a lead that they never relinquished.

“We got everybody with two (fouls),” SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said after the game on his post-game interview on KAAM 770.  “When you get in that situation, you just try to get to the half.  Fouls.  That was a killer.”

In the second half, Connecticut was largely in control.  SMU was able to close the gap to six points around the 12:00 minute mark.  That was as close as they would get as the Huskies led by double digits most of the second half and by as many as 15.

Jimmy Whitt, Jr. recorded a double-double for SMU with 20 points and 10 rebounds.  Jahmal McMurray was the only other Mustang to score in double digits with 15.  The Mustangs grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, which is both good news and bad news.  23 is a good total, but it also indicates a poor shooting night to make so many offensive rebounding opportunities available.  SMU shot just 35% from the field on the night.

Jalen Adams led the Huskies with a game high 21 points.  Alterique Gilbert was close behind with 19 points, and Christian Vital chipped in with 11.  Vital and Tyler Polley led Connecticut with seven rebounds each.  UCONN shot 52% on the night, so there weren’t all that many rebound opportunities available.

Jankovich said about UCONN’s guards, “You’re looking at one of the most talented back courts in this league.”  They certainly were Thursday night.

Connecticut plays home games at the XL Center in Hartford and the on campus Gampel Pavilion in Storrs.  Thursday’s win move the Huskies to 5-0 at Gampel this season, while they are 4-2 in Hartford.

 The Mustangs next play at home Saturday evening at 5:00 PM against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.  It is the only meeting in conference play between these two schools this season.  Tulsa is 11-5 on the season and 1-2 in conference play after losing to Cincinnati 70-65 at home Thursday night.  “This will be a tough turnaround,” Jankovich said about playing again in a different time zone just two days after the UCONN game. 

Ira Terrell will be honored at halftime.  Terrell’s number 32 jersey will be raised to the Moody Coliseum rafters joining Jim Krebs, Jon Koncak and Gene Phillips.  Terrell was inducted into the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.  He is the only Mustang to average a double-double over his career.

NOTABLE:

  • SMU was 2-10 last season in true road games.  With wins this year at Georgetown and Tulane, the Mustangs have equaled last season’s road win total.
  • SMU is 9-4 all-time against Connecticut with Thursday’s loss.
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