Mustangs end losing streak

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2019

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BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                          MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers association

The SMU Mustangs completed the 2018-19 regular season with a surprising 77-71 upset win over the South Florida Bulls Sunday afternoon in Yuengling Arena on the USF campus.  The win, which was just the third road win of the season for SMU, ended the Mustangs’ four game losing streak, and is only their second win in the last 11 games.  They finish the regular season 14-16 overall, their first losing season since 2012-13, Larry Brown’s first season as head coach. They finished tied for ninth place with Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference standings with a 6-12 record, their second straight season with a losing conference record.  South Florida falls to 19-12 and 8-10.

“It’s just incredible,” SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said after the game on Dallas radio station KAAM 770 AM.  “I thought we were fantastic.  I’m so proud.”   

The Mustangs won this game with essentially six players.  Jarrey Foster started for the third straight game.  Injuries have limited him to just 14 games this season, and they limited him to just nine minutes in this game, all in the first half.  Feron Hunt and the other four starters besides Foster played at least 34 minutes, and all five scored in double digits.  That left just seven game minutes for the last three players on the bench.  

Hunt off the bench gave the Mustangs the punch to take a 36-28 halftime lead.  He had 11 rebounds in the first half, despite not starting; and was just a point shy of recording a double-double in the period.  

“So many good things,” Jankovich said about the game, “including Hunt with 11 rebounds at halftime.”  For the game, Hunt turned in his first collegiate double-double with career highs in points (17) and rebounds (14).  The rebound total was just one shy of the school record for rebounds in an AAC conference game.

In the second half, the Mustangs’ lead grew to as many as 15 points, and was in double digits for most of the period.  SMU led for more than 34 minutes in the game.  

Ethan Chargois was SMU’s leading scorer in the game with 19.  Jankovich said.  “He’s a tough matchup.  He’s smart.  He posted it.  He shot threes.  How good is THAT!” 

Jimmy Whitt, Jr. was back in the lineup after missing two games with a shoulder injury.  He scored 14 points.  Jahmal McMurray added 13 points, despite taking just four shots from beyond the three point arc and making just one.  Isiaha Mike put in 11 points.

It was the second straight strong offensive showing for SMU, after stumbling for three straight games.  Their shooting percentage was above 50% for the second straight game as they shot 58%.

South Florida out-rebounded the Mustangs 40-29 to somewhat stay in the game.  “They whipped us on the boards,” Jankovich said.  “That will be our number one focus going into Thursday.”

South Florida had injury problems too.  Their starting point guard Laquincy Rideau did not play at all.  Their leading scorer on the season, David Collins, shot just 3-13 from the field, though he tallied 15 points on the day.  Alexis Yetna, a serious candidate for conference freshman of the year, led the Bulls with 17 points.  Guard Justin Brown was the other USF player to score in double digits with 10 points.    

 The post-season conference tournament, named the Air Force Reserve AAC Championship, begins this Thursday.  SMU is slotted in as the 10 seed and will play seven seed Tulsa at 7:00 PM (Central).  SMU and Tulsa faced off just once this season in conference play with SMU winning 77-57 at Moody Coliseum on January 12.  The game will be televised on ESPN News.  The winner will play two seed Cincinnati on Friday at 7:00 PM Eastern/6:00 PM Central. 

NOTABLE:

  • The Mustangs and South Florida split the two conference games this season with the road team winning each time.  SMU leads the all-time series with USF 10-5, which includes a 4-3 record for games played on the Bulls’ home court.
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