SMU probably should have beaten the Tigers by more than 12 points, but what does it matter really.
Nic Moore was about as lethal as he’s been all season—the star point guard finished with 22 points on 50 percent shooting.
And he wasn’t even the most impressive Mustang on the court. Sure, all three of his 3-pointers were filthy and downright daggers, but Sterling Brown had the most complete game.
It has been the year of Sterling. Dude is shooting 66 percent from the floor and 59 percent from 3-point range. Saturday night he finished with 12 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals, and three blocks.
It was his 12th double-digit scoring performance of the season and his six dimes tied his previous season-high.
Along the same lines Ben Moore was, once again, a huge reason for SMU’s dominance.
His length and athleticism makes him such a huge matchup problem for opposing teams. He also finished with 12 points and added eight rebounds, two assists and a two blocks to fill out his stat line.
Ben Moore is now tied for 12th all-time at SMU for blocked shots with 72. It was his ninth consecutive game in double-digits and his 15th of the season.
Brown and Ben Moore’s development over the past two seasons has been huge.
Considering that Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy, and Jordan Tolbert are on their way out of the program, having those two playing at such a high level is the biggest positive to take away from this season.
It was also nice to see Shake Milton playing as comfortably as we’d gotten used to seeing early in the season. The freshman finished with 15 points, five rebounds and two assists—all in all, a solid night.
If you’ve noticed, every stat line I’ve given you has had at least a couple of assists. That’s because everyone except Jonathan Wilfong and Kennedy registered an assist.
The Mustangs scored 23 field goals. Fifteen of those buckets came with an assist.
Fifteen assists on 23 field goals. That’s something so pretty I had to write twice.
Now a big reason for all those assists—you know, aside from the fact that Larry Brown has this offense moving like a well-oiled machine—is that SMU was keeping Memphis off the offensive glass.
The Mustangs had 51 total rebounds to the Tigers 35, but of those 51, 39 came on the defensive end. So not only was Memphis missing a ton of shots (they shot 32.8 percent) but SMU was securing the rebound and getting out in transition. Thus, leading to a lot of beautiful passes punctuated with buckets.
No one ever admits it, but the thought of going undefeated for entire season weighs heavily on the heads of players of an unbeaten team.
I have had the chance to watch the Atascocita high school boys basketball team twice this season. Both times, they have absolutely waxed one of my teams.
Atascocita is ranked fourth in the country right now and is 28-0.
Their coach, David Martinez, doesn’t like talking about it. Their star shooting guard Carsen Edwards brushes it off like it isn’t important.
BUT IT IS.
How can it not be?
If you are an athlete, or even just any kind of competitor, it is majorly important—especially if you have a real shot at doing it.
Once that shot is gone, and you no longer have a chance at going undefeated, I bet there is a huge feeling of relief that washes through the locker room.
Maybe it’s a mixture of relief and sadness. Heck, throw in some frustration and disappointment too.
I’m a very competitive person, so I can imagine how much the thought of going undefeated could loom over your shoulders. I’ve even experienced it when I used to play franchise mode on Madden with my dad and uncle.
The first couple of years we played I lost a lot, but eventually I turned Washington into a freaking dynasty. I can’t even tell you how man Super Bowls we won.
Towards the end of our magical run we had a real shot at going undefeated but we lost around week 13 or so.
I remember playing every single game before we lost on edge. Once we did I stopped worrying as much and at the end of the season, we hoisted yet another digital Lombardi trophy.
My point with all this is, that since losing to Temple, SMU must be feeling so much more relaxed when it steps on the court.
It certainly looked like it Saturday night.