MUSTANGS THUMP UCF KNIGHTS

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Image result for SMU basketball vs UCF Jan 7

BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                 MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Mustangs sent the Central Florida Knights to their fourth straight loss Wednesday night in Moody Coliseum, 81-74.  Kendric Davis scored 22 points, his second straight game in the 20’s, to lead the offensive charge.  Feron Hunt also poured in 20 points as four Mustangs scored in double digits for the ninth straight game.  With the win, SMU improves to 12-2 for the season and 2-0 in conference play.  The Knights fell to 9-6 and 0-3.

The Mustangs opened the game with a 13-0 run, but UCF answered with a 13-2 run to trail by just two points.  The Knights eventually tied the game at 25 and took the lead at 27-25, which proved to be their only lead of the game.  From there, the Mustangs finished the first half on an 8-2 run to lead 35-29 at halftime.

SMU head coach Tim Jankovich was not pleased with his team’s first half play, saying “I wasn’t very happy at all.  I thought we played with the wrong mind set.  We’re a pretty young team.  Coming off that game the other night, how can you not be pretty full of yourself?  Still happy.  Still talking about the game.  You want to get it behind you, but it’s very difficult.”

The “other night” he was talking about was last Saturday’s miraculous overtime win over Vanderbilt after they trailed by 15 points with little more than six minutes left in the second half.  He continued, “I thought we came out on the offensive end sloppy.  Poor decisions.  Poor execution.  I was very disappointed honestly.” 

In the second half, the Mustangs played much better.  They turned the ball over just three times after 10 in the first half.  They shot 50% from the field (15-30).  They had 13 assists on the 15 made baskets.  The game stayed close for most of the half.  It took the Mustangs almost 12 minutes to push their lead back to 10 points, but that was the only double digit lead after halftime.     

Jankovich elaborated, “We took control of this game late with courage and toughness.  We did a lot of things very well.  Good shots.  So many, many good things.”

Central Florida had the best season in program history last year, but is rebuilding this year after losing 7’-6” center Tacko Fall.  Fall is with the Boston Celtics, and the Mustangs are happy that he’s gone.  “It’s great really,” Ethan Chargois said.  “Simpler, easier shots.  Definitely easier to get rebounds.”

The Mustangs out-rebounded the Knights 34-27.  They shared the ball well with 21 assists on the 26 made baskets.  SMU also shot 48.1% for the game, which included 54.2% on three point shots.  One formula coaches always like to see is their team making more free throws than the opponent shoots.  That happened Wednesday with SMU making 16 of 20 for 80%, while the Knights shot just 11.  

Three UCF players scored in double digits.  Collin Smith, Ceasar DeJesus and Matt Milon each scored 19 points.  Smith pulled down eight rebounds, the most for any player on either team.

SMU now hits the road for their next two games, beginning this Saturday at East Carolina.  The Pirates are 7-8 for the season and 1-1 in conference play.  Game time is 2:00 PM Eastern/1:00 PM Central, and ESPNU is televising the game.

NOTABLE:

  • Kendric Davis was named to this week’s American Athletic Conference Honor Roll.   He scored 36 points, dished out 15 assists, grabbed nine rebounds and stole four passes in games against South Florida and Vanderbilt.  He was particularly outstanding in the Vanderbilt game when he scored 24 points.  Nineteen of those points came after halftime, including 11 in the second half and eight in overtime.  He became the fourth Mustang to be named to the conference weekly honor roll this season joining Feron Hunt, Isiah Mike and Tyson Jolly.   
  • SMU learned this week that Darius McNeill will not be playing basketball for the Mustangs this season.  His petition to waive the rule requiring sitting out one year as a transfer was turned down last month.  The school appealed the decision, but the appeal was also denied earlier this week.
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