PONIES POUND THE GREEN WAVE LATE

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, February 29th, 2016

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Strong Second Half Thwarts Tulane’s Upset Bid

BY: Dic Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, TEXAS – The number 24 SMU Men’s basketball team took care of a pesky Tulane Green Wave squad Sunday afternoon in Moody Coliseum, 74-53. The sellout crowd of 6,781 saw the Mustangs improve their record to 24-4 for the season and 12-4 in American Athletic Conference play, which is good enough for a first place tie with Temple. Tulane drops to 10-19 and 3-13.

SMU actually trailed 29-28 at halftime. The Mustangs seemingly took control of the game at 28-21, but watched the Green Wave score the final eight points of the half over the last three plus minutes. SMU dominated the boards 23-12, but offset the advantage by failing to take care of the ball, turning it over 12 times. Tulane scored 11 points off those turnovers.

The Mustangs also shot poorly going 11-29 from the field. Neither leading scorer, Nic Moore, nor second leading scorer, Jordan Tolbert, scored in the first half, as they combined to go 0-7 from the field.

“I thought we defended great in the first half,” SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said. “I think they had us really confused the way they were changing defenses.”

The Mustangs were much better in the second half, as they blistered Tulane for 46 points. “We just said we need to execute,” Jarrey Foster said about their halftime discussion.

“I think it was more effort and energy,” Shake Mitchell said about the second half. “We were more focused.”

SMU grabbed the lead early in the second half, though Tulane didn’t immediately go away. After falling behind by 10 points, the Green Wave rallied for a 7-0 run to cut the lead to three at 45-42. However, at that point with more than 12 minutes left in the game, the Mustangs really turned up the defensive heat. Tulane failed to make a basket for more than eight minutes, as their scoring was limited to just four made free throws in that span. The Green Wave fell behind by 20 during the stretch.

The game was in the bag then. SMU pushed the lead to as many as 22 before winning by 21. Walk-ons Jonathan Wilfong and David Nelson saw action in the final minutes, as did wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Wilfong and Sutton received hearty ovations for a basket and a rebound respectively.

Four Mustangs finished with double digit point totals. Ben Moore was the leader with 16, and he also snatched 12 rebounds to complete a double-double. Sterling Brown (15), Shake Milton (14) and Tolbert (11) were the other three.

The Mustangs have now won three straight games after alternating losses and wins for seven games after their season opening 18 game winning streak. The players aren’t dwelling on streaks though. “We’re just really focused on sending the seniors out the right way,” Milton said about these final games of the season.

Up Next for the Mustangs is their last home tilt of the season Thursday night against Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the Mustangs 69-62 in the first meeting between the two teams on February 18. Game time is 8:00 PM (Central), and it will be televised on ESPN2. SMU in a departure from the norm will wear red uniforms Thursday instead of the usual home whites.

AND ALSO:

  • SEEN AT THE GAME: Former President and First Lady George W. and Laura Bush. Former SMU and NFL running back Reggie Dupard.
  • Sunday’s attendance brought the season total to 110,117, the second highest total in school history. SMU’s attendance has eclipsed the 100,000 mark three years in a row, and four times total. Last year’s total was the all time high.
  • The 24 regular season wins ties the school record, accomplished in three previous seasons – last year, 1983-84 and 1987-88.
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