MUSTANGS BREEZE BY ECU

by Dan M | Posted on Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Image result for smU vs ECU January 22

BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The East Carolina Pirates victory over SMU 11 days earlier stuck like a craw in the Mustang players’ mouths.  They couldn’t wait for Wednesday night’s rematch to prove which team is the better of the two.  The Pirates scored the first basket of the game, and the Mustangs answered with a 10-0 run to put SMU in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.  The Mustangs never trailed again and breezed to a 20 point win.

Mustang guard Tyson Jolly summed it up best after the game, “I feel like we played some of our best basketball of the season tonight.  We made shots.  I feel like we came out with the mindset that we were going to beat them.  We executed all night.  I feel like overall, we played a real good game as a team.”

After the early 10-0 run, the Mustangs extended the lead into double digits at 15-5 and went on to lead 40-26 at halftime.  The Pirates opened the second half with a 9-1 run to cut the lead to six points.  That was as close as they would get as the Mustangs held the lead in this game for 38:18.  The final score was 84 to 64.

Head Coach Tim Jankovich, “I loved our team tonight.  Best offensive game of the year.  Best execution.  Most unselfish.  Best ball movement.  Best spacing.  Best basketball we’ve played all year without question start to finish on offense.”  The Mustangs recorded 22 assists on 29 baskets as statistical backup to “sharing the ball”.  The 22 assists ties the season high for a game.

It was a hot shooting night for the Ponies.  They finished the game with a field goal percentage of 54.7%.  That included 48.4% on three point attempts.  Three Mustangs scored in double digits.  Jolly had his second fine game in a row leading the Mustangs with 17 points.  Kendric Davis again fell an assist shy of recording a double-double.  He scored 15 points with nine assists.  Ethan Chargois did not start for the second game in a row, but came off the bench to score 12 points.

East Carolina was led by Jayden Gardner with 18 points.  Gardner came into the game as the leading scorer in the conference at 20.7 points per game.  Brandon Suggs also scored 18, and Tristen Newton put in 15 points. 

SMU improves to 14-4 for the season and 4-2 in conference.  East Carolina is now 8-11 and 2-4.  Tulsa, the most surprising team in the conference, has taken the conference lead at 5-1.  They are for real as they have wins over Houston and Memphis.  Houston is close behind at 4-1.  Cincinnati, which tagged the loss on Tulsa, is in third place at 5-2.  SMU is tied with Wichita State for fourth place at 4-2, and Memphis is in sixth place at 3-2.  At this point, those six teams look to be the top half of the conference with at least four likely going to the NCAA Tournament. 

This week is the “Coaches verses Cancer” week in college basketball, which is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches to raise money for cancer research.  Since 1993, this program has raised more than $120 million.  SMU coaches wore suits and sneakers to raise awareness.  Jankovich said, “Basketball games are important to a lot of people, but it pales to an amazing cause that’s not entertainment.  I think it’s fantastic that the coaching community embraced it years ago.  I’m proud of our coaching community that we do embrace it and have impacted research.”  Jankovich noted that he lost his mother to cancer.  

The Mustangs now hit the road for two games, starting with Memphis this Saturday.  The Tigers’ Head Coach Penny Hardaway had the number one recruiting class in the nation, and was regarded with Houston as preseason co-favorites to win the conference.  They have lost the top recruit in the nation – James Wiseman, but their freshmen are still outstanding.  Their players have been named the conference “Freshman of the Week” seven times in eleven weeks.  Precious Achiuwa has earned the honor three times.  He is averaging a double-double scoring 15.4 points (fourth in the conference) and 10.4 rebounds (first in the conference) per game.  They are ranked 20th in both major polls this week, but limp into the game on the heels of a 40 point loss Wednesday night to Tulsa.  Memphis is 14-4 for the season and 3-2 in conference play.  Game time is 3:00 PM Central, and the game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

NOTABLE:

  • Tyson Jolly was named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll last week after recording career highs in points (25) and rebounds (14) in the Mustangs’ win over Temple.  It was the second time for Jolly on the list.
  • SMU made 15 three point shots Wednesday night, tied for second most in a game in SMU history.  
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