I know most of us didn’t like the noon tipoff, but I did. First, because after the game ended, I had a solid chunk of my afternoon to… continue doing nothing in front of my TV. Second, and most importantly, I had just rolled out of bed maybe twenty minutes before and I can’t imagine a better way to wake up than a 98-44 win.
Okay that’s not true, I can think of at least three better ways to wake up, but two of them involve super-models and the logistics of the other is simply too complicated to be practical, but I digress.
This SMU Mustangs team, 6-0 and ranked 22nd in the top 25, is off to a strong start this season. So strong in fact that one would have to look back 17 years to find a more impressive start.
The 1997-98 Mustangs got off to a 10-0 start and would finish 18-10 with their last game coming in the 2nd round of the WAC conference tournament.
While that group was impressive, they weren’t nearly as talented as the team 10 years before. With guys like Kato Armstrong, Terry Thomas and Glenn Puddy, SMU finished with a 28-7 record, 1st in the SWC and was a seven seed in the NCAA tourney. That group started their season 5-0.
That year the Mustangs lost in the second round 94-79 to No.2 Duke. It would take SMU five seasons to get back to the big dance. And another 22 years until SMU danced again.
SMU second round loss to UCLA in the NCAA tourney was 27 years removed from their last second round appearance.
Okay, history lesson over. Let’s get back to present day.
It was pointed out that I was too easy on Keith Frazier after his miserable performance last Wednesday. As I mentioned in our forum, had SMU lost I would have most certainly taken it out on him. Though he was deserving of a few cutting words, I decided to focus instead on the positives of the game.
And what does Mr. Frazier do, but bounce back and tie his career high of 23 points with six 3-pointers.
But he did a lot more than shoot the lights out; he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple assists, blocked a couple shots, and picked someone’s pocket. Frazier shot 60 percent from 3-point range and was 58.3 percent from the floor.
Frazier and his ability to hit outside shots is important. It spreads the floor and gives the big guys like Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert more room to operate.
And when guys are getting to the rim, shooters get better looks. Tolbert and Kennedy combined for 20 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor.
As a team, SMU shot 56 percent from 3-point land and 57.9 percent from the floor while holding New Hampshire to just 26.7 percent from the floor—the lowest shooting percentage SMU has held an opponent to all season.
And whenever SMU outshoots its opponent, they are 55-7 under coach Larry Brown or Tim Jankovich.
Ready for some more lopsided stats?
SMU had 36 points in the paint. New Hampshire had 14. That line isn’t anything new, though. Since 2013 SMU has outscored 67 of 76 opponents in the paint—including all six opponents this season.
SMU had 48 rebounds to UNH’s23—a season high for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs also had 14 second chance points to UNH’s 7—go figure.
SMU got a little (emphasis on little) sloppy in the second, but can you blame them? Still the finished with 11 turnovers. New Hampshire turned the ball over 12 times and that led to 17 points off turnovers for the Mustangs.
For the fifth time this season, five Mustangs scored in double digits and two, Frazier and Shake Milton, scored over 20. In fact the duo combined for 43 points, just one point less than the entire UNH team combined.
Let that sink in.
So what have we learned from the first six games? SMU can rebound, they are smarter with the ball than last season, and they have a roster full of guys that can play big minutes on any given night.
This team has a lot of grit to them, and they can score in bunches too—they are dangerous.
Tuesday’s game against Michigan will be one of their tougher tests of this early part of the season.
Good news: they will play at Moody, where SMU is 38-3 since 2013.
It’ll be a fun one, no doubt about it.