Markus Kennedy out of Foul Trouble
Markus Kennedy took advantage of a smaller Yale lineup and didn't pick up his first foul until just over eight minutes left in the second half. He played 33 minutes and finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. His passing helped keep SMU in the game in the first half, and his ability to stay out of foul trouble allowed SMU to play him and Jordan Tolbert together, a luxury it hadn't had because of its thin bench. They combined for 29 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, four steals and just one turnover. SMU can survive against its smaller nonconference opponents by playing a smaller lineup when one gets in foul trouble, but needs production like today from Kennedy and Tolbert in conference season.
Brown's 11-point, zero-rebound day doesn't jump off the stat sheet, but he didn't miss a field goal and had a personal 9-3 run over four minutes that shrunk Yale's lead to two points with 12:34 left. Brown showed flashes as a steady offensive player last year, but SMU's offense would go to the next level if Brown can chrun out efficient performances similar to today's. He has a career 50 percent field goal percentage and usually takes smart shots. He did commit four fouls and didn't play much down the stretch, but he was a critical part of the win.
Jarrey Foster and Shake Milton had to pick up a lot of minutes down the stretch because of Nic Moore and Sterling Brown's foul trouble. They stayed poised down the stretch and impacted the game in ways other than scoring. Foster replaced Brown after Brown's fourth foul with 10:15 left in the second half and got a steal and offensive rebound in the next three minutes. Milton only played six second-half minutes, but he didn't commit a turnover after committing three of them in the first half.
First Half Rebounding
Head coach Tim Jankovich was displeased with the rebounding, espeically in the first half. A much smaller Yale team outrebounded for much of game. The rebound totals don't look terrible (33 to 33), but Yale's second-chance points and limiting SMU's second chances were key in building its lead. Jankovich credited Yale for chasing down longer rebounds and getting 50/50 balls, but a bigger team with its frontcourt safe from foul trouble shouldn't give up 14 offensive rebounds.
SMU has played a little more zone defense this year because of the new points of emphasis on fouls. It played a little more than usual in the first half, but Yale moved well and scored easily after the zone got a couple early stops. SMU shut Yale down in the second half with almost exclusively man-to-man defense. Jankovich said that SMU will use zone mainly when it's in foul trouble, but it looked beatable in its bigger sample size today.
Yale's deadly first-half shooting from deep and second-chance points helped built its lead, but SMU had nine first-half turnovers that prevented it from seriously contesting Yale's offensive outburst. SMU struggled with turnovers early last season, but they hadn't been an issue in the season's first two games. Nic Moore and Shake Milton had five of the nine and just three first-half assists.