Upon Further Review: Tulane

Demetrio takes a look at SMU F Markus Kennedy's production off the bench in his latest, "Upon Further Review."

Make that five straight and 13 of their last 14 for SMU.

Are we sure this is a team that started the season without its best low-post player, had a transfer decide to go pro mid-season, had an assistant coach take personal leave from the program, lost one of their most talented players to academic ineligibility, and is under NCAA investigation?

I’m not sure how any team continues to perform well under those circumstances…and actually SMU is getting better as their off the court troubles get worse.

Think about it, the Mustangs had been turning the ball over way to frequently. Larry Brown even made joke about how his guys liked passing the ball to the other team.

Then Nic Moore goes out against Tulane and turns it over once, while the team commits only nine turnovers. That is the second consecutive game, that SMU has turned the ball over less than 10 times.

I might be crazy, but the sudden scarcity of SMU turnovers leads me to believe coach Brown has them on a gluten-free diet. You know, if cutting out certain pastries from their diets is helping them hold onto the ball, I’m all for it- even if I don’t fully understand/believe in this “gluten-free” thing.

In case I lost you, I was talking about turnovers: the pastries, and turnovers: the basketball mistake...moving on.

Markus Kennedy is playing fantastically as of late. He has now scored in double figures four times this season, including three consecutive games. Keep in mind he has only played in nine games, but is already averaging 10.7 points a game.

So how is it that this team doesn’t seem to be missing the production of Keith Frazier? Well perhaps the simplest answer is that Markus Kennedy is covering Frazier’s 10.5 points a game average, while other players like Ryan Manuel, Cannen Cunningham, and Sterling Brown (most importantly Brown) are continuing to be valuable contributors.

But let’s talk a little more about Kennedy. Last time we chatted on this here column, I mentioned that Kennedy is coming off the bench because he wants to. At least, that is what Brown is telling us.

Against Tulane, SMU had 21 points off the bench to the Green Wave’s 12. That’s the 11th time SMU has outscored their opponents bench- and they happen to be undefeated when they do. Guess who came off the bench and scored 14 of those 21 points.

That’s right- Markus Kennedy.

For farts and giggles, let’s say that Kennedy started tonight for SMU. He would play the four. And I happened to think Brown would play Ben Moore at the three and push Sterling to the bench. That would mean the bench scoring would now be 13-12 in SMU’s favor. They still win the battle, but only by one, and they still win the game.

But that is just looking at the stat after a game has already been played. The point I’m trying to make is that Kennedy’s production off the bench is invaluable and no other player on this roster can provide that. As long as Kennedy comes off the Bench, SMU will continue to have solid production from its “reserves” and not allow opponents to take advantage of subs when the starters take a breather.

If SMU continues to protect the ball like it has the past couple of games, and Kennedy continues to be a force, this team has a serious shot at making a run for the conference title.

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