How it Happened
SMU got off to a hot start, as Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown hit a pair of three-pointers to give SMU a quick 6-0 lead. However, the first half went steeply downhill from there. SMU played sloppy basketball throughout the first. They turned it over, allowed Gardner-Webb to get to the rim on defense and clanked shots. At halftime, Gardner-Webb went into the locker room with a 28-27 lead. However, SMU was able to turn it around in the second half. The half opened with a 10-0 run, with Shake Milton and Semi Ojeleye scoring five of those points apiece. SMU never looked back from that point on, holding Gardner-Webb to 16 points in the half, while scoring 45 themselves. SMU received contributions across the board in the second half, as Ben Moore, Ojeleye, Milton, Brown and Jarrey Foster all played effectively.
What it Means
In a game they should have won easily, SMU got off to a very slow start. However, Tim Jankovich adjusted over halftime, and the Mustangs smothered Gardner-Webb in the second half. They were able to get whatever they wanted on offense, while Gardner-Webb was not able to do anything. SMU had to shake off some rust in the first half, but took care of business overall.
Player of the Game
Semi Ojeleye. The transfer forward had a solid SMU debut. He posted 26 points and 14 rebounds, displaying his versatility by scoring inside and outside. Ojeleye did have an ugly 1:7 assist-to-turnover ratio, but he was clearly the best player in the game.
Dashawn McDowell did not play until the final two minutes of the game.
SMU plays Eastern Michigan at 1 PM on Sunday, in Moody Coliseum.