by Dan M | Posted on Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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BY:  Dic Humphrey

TULSA, Oklahoma – SMU outshot the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to take an 81-69 win in the opening American Athletic Conference game for both teams Tuesday afternoon in the Tulsa University’s Reynolds Center.  SMU guards Shake Milton and Nic Moore scored 24 and 23 points respectively to lead the charge as the Mustangs improved to a school record 12-0 to start the season and 1-0 in conference play.  SMU is ranked 17th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25.  Tulsa is 8-5 and 0-1.

The game started slowly for the Ponies, as Tulsa scored the first four points.  Milton scored a three point basket to break the scoring ice more than two minutes into the game.  3.5 minutes into the game, the Ponies took the lead at 7-6 and never trailed again.  Milton hit another three point shot at the 15:44 mark to extend the lead to 10-6.  He continued with another three at the 14:35 mark, another at 13:55, and still another at 13:17.

The freshman from the Tulsa area playing in front of friends, family and neighbors, finished with17 first half points and 24 in the game to lead all scorers.  He made seven of eight three point shots, with the only miss coming in a desperation heave as the shot clock neared zero.  He added a basket and free throw to complete his 24 point attack on the Hurricane.

“At first, I thought Shake was literally playing horse,” SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said after the game.  “We really needed him to step up because the beginning wasn’t really very pretty.  We got some turnovers and playing a little fast.  He kind of bailed us out a little bit.  We beat a great team.  We had to execute.  I look out on the floor and here we’ve got a freshman playing against two guys that are going to play in the NBA.  I thought he (Milton) did a heck of a job.  You don’t shoot a high percentage unless you defend pretty well and execute pretty well.  I think we did that pretty well.”

“It was a really good feeling,” Milton said about playing in front of his family and friends.  As for hitting the rash of threes, Milton said, “I think I have to give credit to my teammates.  They’re driving and I’m just trying to move and find the right spot.  They pass to me and told me to shoot it.  They have confidence in me.”

The Mustangs shot 59.3% in the first half and 56.4% for the game; spiffy numbers for a conference game on the road.  Tulsa actually took more shots than the Ponies (59-56), but the Hurricane hit just 44.1%.  SMU has been leading the country in rebounding margin, but barely out-rebounded the Hurricane 33-32.

SMU pushed the lead to as many as 11 in the first half, but Tulsa cut the margin to six at 41-35 at halftime.  SMU came out strong to start the second half as they built the lead into double digits in the first four plus minutes.  At the 12:23 mark, the lead hit 14 points, the Ponies’ largest of the game.

In the end, the Hurricane finished quietly, getting no closer than nine points in the final six minutes.

Ben Moore was the third Mustang to score in double digits with 11 points.  He was the unsung hero as the stalwart of the SMU inside game as Jordan Tolbert was limited to 20 minutes of playing time with foul trouble.  Moore grabbed 10 rebounds to complete a double-double in a game that was played ruggedly inside.  Tolbert had just seven rebounds and two points while Markus Kennedy, the other “big” on the roster saw 26 minutes of action with nine points and four rebounds, as he continues to come back from an ankle injury.

Tulsa has nine seniors, more than any team in the country, including guards James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison.  They kept the Hurricane in the game with 22 and 15 points respectively, on 13-24 shooting.  Woodard’s point total included five three point buckets.  Harrison was also Tulsa’s leading rebounder in the game with eight.

The Mustangs open a three game home stand at Moody Coliseum this Saturday against the University of South Florida at 6:30 PM.  The Bulls are 3-10 and open conference play by hosting Houston on Wednesday afternoon before arriving in Dallas.  The USF-SMU game will be televised on ESPN News.


  • Nic Moore was named to the American Athletic Conference weekly honor roll after leading the Mustangs in scoring in both victories in last week’s Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.  The Mustangs claimed the championship by beating Kent State and Colorado, and Moore was named the Tournament MVP.

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