How it Happened
It was a tale of two halves for SMU. Yale controlled the first half thanks to good ball movement and a six-for-10 start from three. SMU shot 48 percent from the floor in the first half, but nine turnovers and Yale's ability to answer every one of SMU's big baskets helped it take a 40-32 halftime lead. SMU played more zone defense that it had in its first two games, and Yale found some space on the perimeter and moved around well. SMU used a 14-2 run in the second half to build a 57-51 lead it would not relinquish. Sterling Brown had a personal 9-3 run as SMU pulled within two points, and Jordan Tobert hit four free throws to give SMU the lead. Yale couldn't sustain its hot three-point shooting, going just three-for-ten from deep in the second half. SMU had just five second-half turnovers, but made the fans sweat it out until the end by missing the front end of a one-and-one twice inside of 40 seconds and allowed a Justin Sears banked-in three with 2.1 seconds left.
What it Means
SMU showed it has the offensive firepower to come back from a sizeable second-half deficit. The Mustangs weren't deterred by the deficit and played their best when behind. Other postseason-ineligible teams often don't match that determination. Sterling Brown is a much more important player to the offense than most realize, and when he can consistently get to the rim, it opens up more space for SMU's shooters and gives the defense another scorer to watch. Yale's frontcourt is undersized, but the big men carried SMU to the win, showing that they are capable of taking over a game when not in foul trouble and when SMU's guards don't have their best shooting day.
Player of the Game
Markus Kennedy. He struggled with foul trouble in SMU's first two games, but he didn't pick up his first foul until 8:19 left in the second half. He finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, zero turnovers and only two fouls, although he did miss all three of his free throw attempts. He's a vital player for SMU and needs to have more games like today's, especially with Semi Ojeleye ineligible until mid-December.
Kennedy's ability to stay out of foul trouble allowed SMU to play him and Tolbert at the same time. SMU isn't deep in the post, but this lineup gave SMU two big men with good post games and a knack for making smart passes.
SMU has a week off before hosting Brown next Sunday at 2 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.