MUSTANGS SCRAMBLE PAST TULANE

by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2019

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BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

UNIVERISTY PARK, Texas – Saturday night in Moody Coliseum, SMU trailed most of the night, but scrambled back in the final 10 minutes to beat the Tulane Green Wave 85-75.  Tulane played hard in search of their first conference win, but Jahmal McMurray and Isiaha Mike led the Mustangs’ second half charge by scoring in the 20’s to cap the win.   SMU’s record goes to 12-7 overall and 4-3 in American Athletic Conference play.  Tulane falls to 4-15 and 0-7.

The first half was a good one for the struggling Green Wave.  They took a 35-32 lead to the halftime locker room after leading for 11:36.  Eight players saw action, and all of them scored.  Forward Kevin Zhang led the way with eight, and 12 of their points came from the bench.

SMU stayed in the game with three point shots.  McMurray, Mike, and Ethan Chargois collectively made five long rangers and scored 29 points.  Jimmie Whitt, Jr. was the only other Mustang that scored.

“Let’s give them a lot of credit, SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said about Tulane’s first half.  “They were very well prepared on the defensive end.  They were ready to play.”  He thought his team’s effort was not good in the first half.  “I wouldn’t have paid to see our team play in the first half.  That was just average at best.”

In the second half, SMU grabbed just one lead in the first 11 minutes.  Over the final nine minutes, the Ponies dominated, outscoring Tulane 31-21 for the balance of the game.

As for the turnaround after intermission, Jankovich said, “I thought the effort the second half got the crowd in the game.  They just got a different grit about them.  That’s the kind of team you want to be.”

“We played a lot harder,” McMurray said about the difference in the second half.  “We fought for loose balls, went after rebounds, boxing out.  We weren’t playing as hard as we could, so we stepped it up.”

McMurray finished with one of his best statistical lines of the season.  He scored 29 points, hitting five three point baskets, five two point baskets and four free throws.

Mike clocked in with his first 20 point game at SMU.  He was 5-5 from the three point stripe, made his only free throw and two more baskets inside the arc.  He had three rebounds, two assists, and a game high three steals to go along with his points.  The totals for steals and three point shots made were season highs.  

“He shot it great,” Jankovich said about Mike after the game.  “He was tremendous, and really played great on the defensive end.”

Jarrey Foster missed his second straight game after suffering a knee injury four minutes into the Houston game.  Jankovich said that it was not a torn ACL, but that he would have a more definitive assessment of the injury early next week.  However, he noted that Foster won’t be back soon, and he may not be back at all.

For the night, SMU made 12 three point shots, the second best game total this season.  It was also the second game this year that two Mustangs reached the 20 point plateau.  Ethan Chargois and Nat Dixon scored in double digits with 11 points each.  Whitt scored seven points, but dished out eight assists to go with just one turnover.  Feron Hunt garnered extra playing time with Foster out and Chargois in foul trouble much of the game.  He picked off seven rebounds to lead the Mustangs and chipped in with all seven of the Mustangs’ bench points. 

Tulane played one of their best games of the year.  Eight players saw action in the game, and five of them ended with a double digit point total – Jordan Cornish 17, Caleb Daniels 12, and Samir Sehic, Paul Blake, and Moses Wood with 10 each.  The Green Wave out-rebounded SMU 37-33.  

SMU goes on the road for two games next week.  First up is Wichita State on Wednesday night with the game played at Koch Arena on the Wheat Shockers’ campus.  Wichita State was ranked much of last season, their first in AAC, but has fallen on hard times this year.  They are 8-11 overall and 1-6 in conference play after losing to Connecticut 80-60 Saturday.  SMU and Wichita State split two meetings last season with the road team winning each game.  ESPNU will televise Wednesday’s game at 8:00 PM (Central).

NOTABLE:

  • SEEN AT THE GAME:  Former President and First Lady George W. and Laura Bush.
  • The SMU coaching staff participated in the “Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week” Saturday, as they wore tennis shoes with the suits to raise awareness of the disease.  Coaches on both teams wore black sneakers with gold laces.
  • The SMU Lettermen’s Association presented the annual SAM Award (Silver Anniversary Mustang) to Richie Butler.  Butler played football at SMU from 1989-93.  He has been active in the Dallas community as a Faith Leader and Real Estate Developer.
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