WICHITA STATE DOMINATES PONIES

by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

SMU190303008_SMU_v_Wichita_St

BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                                    MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The college basketball season begins with practices in October.  By March, players are tired and beat up.  The travel that was an adventure in November is now a labor, whether you are winning or losing.  When you have a losing record in March, though, games and especially practices are tough.  The SMU Mustangs finished their home schedule Sunday afternoon in Moody Coliseum, losing to the Wichita State Wheat Shockers 67-55.  It was a labor.

SMU point guard Jimmy Whitt injured his shoulder in a collision late last Wednesday against Cincinnati.  He didn’t play Sunday.  

“We were very scattered today,” SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said about not having Whitt, Jr. available Sunday.  As to whether it’s a season ending injury, Jankovich said, “We’re hoping he comes back.”

Jarrey Foster had missed 10 straight games to a knee injury, but he did play, and not just a cameo appearance on Senior Day.  Foster is the last remaining player from the 2017 team, generally regarded as the best team in SMU history.  He played 20 minutes after just two practices in preparation since being injured in the UH game January 16.  He’s certainly not in top playing condition, but he chipped in with seven points.

“He’s been working really hard.  He hasn’t played basketball in six weeks,” Jankovich said about Foster.  “He plays basketball for two days, and then played in this game.  But he wanted to play.  It was great to see that he was happy and smiling this week and excited to play.  I hope he wakes up tomorrow, and he feels pretty good.  I was proud of him.  He looked really good.”   

The bottom line though, is that for the third straight game the SMU offense did not show up.  They have averaged 71.4 points per game for the season (including the last three games), but they have scored just 48, 49 and now 55 points in their last three games.

It was a lackluster effort in the first half for SMU.  Wichita State scored the first basket in the first 22 seconds of the game.  They led the rest of the game.  The Shockers took a 41-28 lead to the halftime locker room.  They pushed the lead to 21 points in the second half before slowing the pace that ran out the clock but allowed the Mustangs to cut the final margin to 12 points.  The Mustangs never got into a flow.

Feron Hunt led the Mustangs with 14 points, his first game to lead the team in scoring, and he did so in just 22 minutes of play.  Jahmal McMurray and Ethan Chargois each added 13.  Isiah Mike was the Mustangs’ leading rebounder with nine.

For Wichita State, Markis McDuffie led with 15 points.  Dexter Dennis with 12 points and Jamarius Burton with 10 points were the other double digit scorers for the Shockers.  All 10 players that appeared in the game for Wichita scored.  McDuffie was also the Shockers leading rebounder with nine.     

The Mustangs are 13-15 with the loss and need to win their final two regular season games to finish with a .500 record.  They are now 5-11 in American Athletic Conference play.  Connecticut beat South Florida Sunday 60-58 to also go to 5-11, so the Huskies and Mustangs are tied for ninth and 10th place in the conference race.  Wichita State is now 8-8 in conference, good enough for sixth place.  The Wheat Shockers are 15-13 for the season.

The Mustangs hit the road to complete the regular season beginning with the University of Houston this Thursday.  The Cougars are back in the remodeled arena that was once called Hofheinz Pavilion, and is now called the Fertitta Center after Tilman Fertitta donated $20 million to remodel the venue. (UH played their home games at Texas Southern University last season.) The Cougars are tied with Cincinnati for the lead for the conference championship with a 14-2 record.  Overall, they are 27-2 after being upset at home Saturday by Central Florida, a loss that ended the longest home winning streak in college basketball.  They were ranked seventh this week, but likely will drop out of the Top 10 with Saturday’s loss.  Game time Thursday is 8:00 PM (Central), and the game will be televised on ESPN.

NOTABLE:

  • SEEN AT THE GAME:  Hall of Fame basketball coach Larry Brown.
  • The official paid attendance Sunday was 6,185, the largest home crowd of the season, but still smaller than the smallest Moody Coliseum crowd last season.  That brought the total home attendance this year to 103,856, the sixth straight year the Mustangs have drawn at least 100,000.  That’s a per game average of 5,770, a reduction of 886 per game from last season.
  • Wichita State has won the last three meetings against SMU and now leads the all-time series seven games to six.  
  • SMU finished 10-8 at home this season, which includes 4-4 in conference play.
  • It was Senior Day for the Mustangs and four players were honored before the game – James Pyle, Nat Dixon, Jahmal McMurray and Jarrey Foster.  All four were in the starting lineup with Isiah Mike.
  • Radio broadcaster Allen Stone was honored at halftime with a framed SMU jersey #26 for his 26 seasons of broadcasting SMU basketball.
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