I’m going to be upfront with you all; I recorded the SMU game and watched it after the Cowboy game.
The biggest reason why I cover sports is because I am a sports fan. I am very emotionally invested in the teams that I root for. I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and my Romosexuality has been well-documented.
So as I struggled to watch the SMU game through tear-filled eyes and copious amounts of adult beverages, I decided that today’s "Upon Further Review" would be more stat heavy than strange, off the wall, and generally forced metaphors and analogies.
Looking through the game notes of SMU’s 70-61 win over UCF, I found one stat to be very misleading; SMU had only one player score in double figures. Nic Moore led the way for the Mustangs with 21 points- hitting five of his eight three-point attempts.
Once he made the two consecutive threes to open the second half, I knew he was dialed in and was really expecting him to go off for thirty points. He didn’t though, and so it was rather surprising that he was the only one to score in double figures.
That stat makes it seem as though Moore carried the team entirely on his back- which is odd considering there is over two thirds of the total score still unaccounted for.
Every Mustang, except for Ben Emelogu got on the board, and five of them were within a field goal of double-digit scoring.
Moore provided the difference in the game and his threes certainly added to SMU’s momentum and helped keep them in the lead down the stretch, but it was as much of a team-win as any this season.
As a team SMU shot 57.1 percent from the field. That is the eighth time this season the Mustangs shot over 50 percent and was their second best total of the season. Their season high was a 61.1 performance against Lamar on Nov. 14. SMU entered the game with a conference leading 47.9 shooting percentage.
As it stands right now, the Mustangs are in possession of the best offense in the conference. Coming into Sunday’s game SMU was ranked number one in average points a game (70.1), field goal percentage, free throw percentage (73.6), and assists (15.1 apg).
When the Mustangs play well—when any team plays well for that matter—usually they finish with more assists than turnovers. SMU has been plagued by the turnover bug all season, but every now and then the problem seems to lessen. On Sunday, the Mustangs turned the ball over 13 times, but created 19 assists on 28 field goals.
Good offense is good, and easy offense is even better. SMU scored 35 (nearly half) of its 70 points in the paint. SMU has won the paint battle in 45 of the last 53 games.
But what’s even better than easy offense? Good defense and rebounding.
In holding UCF to 61 points, SMU limited the Knights to 36.2 percent from the floor and forced nine turnovers. The Mustangs also outrebounded UCF 35-27. This season alone, SMU has outrebounded its opponents 14 times and is 12-2 in those games.
The Mustangs have now won 10 of their last 11 games and are 3-1 in conference play. It is their best conference start since 2001-02 when they went 4-0 to start play in the Western Athletic Conference.
The win improves SMU’s all-time record against UCF to 6-6 and 3-0 in AAC games. It also improves their road record under Larry Brown to 14-16 (2-3 this season).
Something else to note, SMU is 5-1 since the return of Kennedy. I told you last time, this is a different team since he returned.
It’s still very early in conference play, but SMU has started off well and the numbers don’t lie. This is a team that can find points very efficiently and from a number of different sources.
The Mustangs have been at their best and their most dangerous when they have played as a team. Let’s just hope they can continue being a team in the weeks to come.