Matt Visinsky

Upon Further Review: SMU vs. Hampton/Nicholls State

Demo has your Upon Further Review and Matt Visinsky has his photo gallery from the past two games.

Are you not entertained?

After running through Nicholls and Hampton, SMU Mustangs is 9-0 and defeating opponents by an average of 23.3 points. 

Keep in mind that three of those wins have been by less than eight points. In the blowouts, SMU is winning by an average margin of 32.5. 

And even though the Mustangs broke 100 points Thursday night against Hampton, their 105-72 win wasn’t even their most decisive. 

The 98-44 win over New Hampshire was by a much wider margin, but you also can’t forget the win over Michigan—mostly because Tolbert’s dunk-fest made SMU seem downright dominant. 

But what is incredibly impressive with SMU’s latest blowout is that it was accomplished with so many missing pieces. 

No Keith Frazier, no Markus Kennedy, and no Sedrick Barefield, but SMU didn’t seem to miss a beat…well kind of. 

Hampton certainly came out swinging and managed to hold SMU down for most of the first half. But with a two-point lead at halftime, SMU made a couple adjustments and exploded for 62 points in the second. 

The biggest spark guy during this run, and I hate using that phrase, has been Sterling Brown. I hate using that phrase, because to me Brown is much more than just a spark player. 

Against Hampton, his 23 points set a new career high and he also added two assists, six rebounds, one block, and three steals for good measure. 

Brown is averaging more than 10 points and six rebounds a game and his 72 percent shooting percentage is the best on the team. What more, he is actually shooting better from 3-point range than from inside the arc at 73 percent. 

He’s only missed 16 shots all season. 

Too put into a little better perspective, someone like Tolbert who is taking most of his shots from right under the rim is only shooting 59 percent from the floor while Nic Moore is shooting 42 percent from the floor. 

Now I call him a spark player, because more so than any other, it seems that he has found ways to energize this team when it’s become complacent. Whether its scoring the first eight points of the game, or pacing a 62 point half, Brown has done all he could to keep the streak going.  

For the first time this season, Tolbert posted back-to-back double-doubles. Against Nicholls he finished with 18 points and 23 boards. Thursday night he posted 20 points and 19 rebounds. 

It’s kind of a great thing when you can start looking at those kinds of stat lines and think, “seems about right.”

Also benefiting from Kennedy’s absence, Ben Moore has tallied up 38 points and 28 rebounds over the past two games. That’s a pretty solid haul from the junior considering his season average is 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds. 

For those of us struggling with math (I used a calculator), the difference between the past two games and his season average is 5.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. 

Tolbert and Ben Moore have done a solid job providing extra production in Kennedy’s absence. But even more than that SMU has been playing well through all sorts of adversity. 

The bright side is that some of those challenges are about to blow away. Larry Brown is returning to the team, having served his nine-game suspension (the reuniting video was amazing by the way). 

Kennedy and Frazier shouldn’t be out for too much longer and Larry will be able to work some magic with a(n almost) full arsenal. 

Unfortunately some troubles won’t blow away. And though SMU remains undefeated and sits at the No. 18 spot, there will be no postseason. 

While it has been ridiculously fun to watch the Mustangs tear through these first nine games, the dark cloud looms.  

It won’t go away and all I can hear in my head is the Police’s “King of Pain.”

If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it. It’s full of all kinds of beautifully depressing imagery splashed against a strangely upbeat melody that is about the most Police melody there could be. Also Sting is kind of okay at singing things, I guess. 

Nothing says a good time like depressing, European, New Wave from the 80’s. 

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