MUSTANGS SHAKE UP THE COUGARS

by Dan M | Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

USATSI_9810357_168381585_lowres-396x300

BY: Dic Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – SMU’s Shake Milton played perhaps the best game of his college career Saturday night scoring a career high 27 points to lead the Mustangs past the University of Houston Cougars 85-64. Semi Ojeleye added 20 points and five SMU players scored in double digits to win their 17th game of the season against only four losses. It was also their 17th consecutive win at Moody Coliseum.

Milton staked a solid claim to be this week’s American Athletic Conference player of the week, as the 27 points he scored Saturday came on the heels of a 23 point scoring performance against Connecticut just two days earlier. He made 11 three point shots in the two games to account for 33 of the 50 points he scored. He has scored in double digits in 17 of SMU’s 21 games and this week’s explosion raised his scoring average to 13.2 points per game.

“Did anybody have a better week in America than Shake?” Head Coach Tim Jankovich asked in the post-game meeting with the press. “I don’t know because I don’t follow every single team, but man! MAN! Was he good! He was good in every single way. His confidence is sky high.”

Milton commented about the performance, “I think it was just because my teammates are feeding (me). They give me confidence. I’m becoming comfortable. Coach Jank trusts me.”

This game was defined by two SMU scoring runs. The Mustangs essentially took charge when they outscored the Cougars 18-3 over the final 7-1/2 minutes of the first half. That gave SMU a 17 point lead at the break 42-25. In the second half, the Mustangs put the game away with another 18-3 run over a 5-1/2 minute period, which started with the Ponies scoring 13 straight points.

“Obviously, we really shot the ball, but shooting comes and goes,” Jankovich said. “I thought we took a lot of great shots. Sometimes you take great shots and don’t make them all, but tonight we took very good shots, and made a lot of shots, and those are fun games. I thought we guarded tremendous the first half. I couldn’t have been happier.”

The only potential downer for SMU was the loss of Jarrey Foster. He was injured in the first half taking a hard charge. He did return to finish the first half, but did not play or even sit on the bench in the second half. After the game, SMU provided no information as to the extent or even the nature of the injury, though it is assumed he was subject to the concussion protocol.

Foster has developed into a key player on this Mustang team, and losing him for an extended period would extremely tax the already shorthanded Mustangs, who have just seven scholarship players including Foster.

Ojeleye scored in the 20’s for the eighth time this season. The three Mustangs scoring in double digits besides Milton and Ojeleye were Ben Emelogu with 13 and Ben Moore and Sterling Brown with 10 each. Brown pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Mustangs, who again out-rebounded their opponent 35-23. The Mustangs had 25 assists on 30 made baskets. Moore led with seven, but the other four double digit scorers recorded at least four assists each.

Houston’s high scorer was Damyean Dotson with 25 points. Rob Gray was the only other Cougar in double digits with 16 points. The Cougars never led in the game and constantly playing from behind forced them to shoot a boatload of three point shots – 33 in all. They made 14, one more than SMU. Dotson and Gray combined to make 10.

“This was a tough week with Connecticut and Houston back-to-back,” Jankovich said. “Looking down the barrel of going to Central Florida. I felt like this was really, really a critical week to play well and we did. We played great from my view, and I couldn’t be happier.”

The win brought SMU’s conference record to 7-1, which keeps them alone in second place. First place Cincinnati beat Tulane Saturday 78-61 to stay undefeated in conference play at 7-0, one-half game ahead of the Mustangs. Tulsa and Central Florida are one game behind SMU in third place with 5-1 records. Central Florida faces 4-2 Memphis on Sunday afternoon. Houston was perceived as a contender for the championship when conference play began, and may ultimately be. However, they fell to 13-7 overall and 4-4 in conference play with the loss.

SMU finishes the first half of conference play next Wednesday against Central Florida in Orlando. Game time is 6:00 PM Eastern (5:00 PM Central), and the game will be televised on ESPN News.

AND ALSO:

  • SEEN AT THE GAME: Former SMU Head Basketball Coach Larry Brown, who is in town to bring two of his kids back to school for the spring semester.
  • This game was the first this year for SMU to have two 20 point scorers. It was the fourth game SMU had five players score in double digits. The Mustangs outshot the Cougars 56.6% to 40.0%.

 

Tags

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>