FINALLY, A BIG WIN FOR SMU!

by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Image result for SMU vs Memphis Basketball January 25                                                                     BY:  Dic Humphrey                                                                                                                                                                 MEMBER:  United States Basketball Writers Association

Saturday afternoon in the Fed-Ex Forum in Memphis, the SMU Mustangs upset the Memphis Tigers 74-70.  The Tigers led most of the game, but the Mustangs finished with a 15-0 run to erase an 11 point deficit for the win.  It’s the first Mustang win over a ranked team in two years, and it’s clearly the biggest win of the season for SMU.  The Ponies record goes to 15-4 for the year.  That win total matches SMU’s win total for the entire 2018-19 season.  The Mustangs’ conference record is 5-2.  They are tied with Cincinnati for third place in the conference race, trailing Houston and Tulsa, both at 5-1.

The Tigers led for most of the game.  SMU’s had only one early two-point lead, and the Tigers held double digit leads for much of the first half.  The halftime score was Memphis 41 – SMU 32.  The Mustangs opened the second half with a 7-0 run and they went on to cut the lead to one point at 52-51 with 12:26 left in regulation.  Memphis however answered SMU’s run rallying to a 12 point lead with 7:08 left in regulation.  SMU’s goose looked cooked at that point; but amazingly, the Tigers scored just two more points in the game.

“Our guys are fighters.  They fought their way out of it,” SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich said about the comeback after being down by 12 points with little more than seven minutes left in the game.  “Explain to me how you can give up the numbers we did on the defensive end and win this game.  The reason is, they (Memphis) didn’t rebound.  They didn’t get any offensive rebounds on us.  They didn’t get any extra shots.  We get a chance for more offensive possessions.  We figure out a way to get our offense in gear.  It was just a fantastic win.”    

Isaiha Mike and Tyson Jolly spearheaded the Mustangs’ strong second half.  Mike scored 13 points after putting up a goose egg in the first half.  He made three three-point shots including the one that gave the Mustangs the lead at 71-70, their first lead since being ahead 4-2.  Jolly put in nine of the 10 points he scored after halftime.  Kendric Davis led SMU with 20 points.  He made eight of nine free throw attempts.  That included nailing down the win by making three pressure free throws after SMU took that 71-70 lead.  The other double digit scorer was Emmanuel Bandoumel with 14 points, which is his new career high.  Jolly also led the Mustangs with nine rebounds.

SMU again won the battle of the boards.  They out-rebounded the Tigers 34-27.   Memphis took good care of the ball in the first half with just two turnovers.  They are a turnover prone team on the season, and that tendency cost them in the second half when they had nine.     

Four Memphis players scored in double digits led by D. J. Jeffries with 18.  Freshman Phenom Precious Achiuwa showed why he is a solid candidate for the conference Player of the Year Award by scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds.  He leads the conference in rebounds and is fourth in scoring.  Boogie Ellis also scored 14 off the Memphis bench, and Lester Quinones had 10. 

For the Temple game on January 18, Jankovich surprisingly altered his starting lineup adding Bandoumel and Isiah Jasey and benching Feron Hunt and three year starter Ethan Chargois.  He has now started that lineup for three consecutive games all of which were wins.  Jasey and Bandoumel are better defensive players, and it was SMU’s defense in the final six minutes that beat Memphis.

The win gives the Mustangs’ chances of making the NCAA a big shot in the arm.  Their season record is highly inflated by their pitiful non-conference schedule.  This is the Mustangs’ first win over a team ranked in the top 75 in the country.  With five other good teams in the American Athletic Conference, they’ll have more opportunities to improve that statistic.      

After the game, the Mustangs dined at noted Memphis barbeque restaurant, The Rendezvous.  With the surprising win in the books, the ribs were an extra special treat.

The Mustangs travel next to Cincinnati to play the Bearcats Tuesday night.  Cincinnati has a 12-7 record for the season and is 5-2 in conference play.  The game will be televised on ESPN News.  Game time is 7:00 PM(Eastern)/6:00 PM (Central). 

NOTABLE:

  • Memphis now leads the all-time series 14-11
  • Kendric Davis has recorded five or more assists in 14 consecutive games.  He also has scored in double digits in 11 straight games.  He kept the streak alive early Saturday getting into double digits in the first 15 minutes of the game and scoring 14 in the first half.
  • The official paid attendance was announced at 17,090, the largest crowd at any SMU game this season.
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