Editor's Note: The cover photo for this preview is courtesy of long standing Pony Stampede member jhgoddard. He said we wouldn't use it. He was wrong.
When: Sunday, November 13 at 1 p.m.
Where: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, TX)
TV/Radio: ESPN3/KAAM 770 AM
The Mustangs kicked off their season with a sluggish first half against Gardner-Webb, but turned things around emphatically with an impressive second half. SMU outscored the Bulldogs 45-16 with help from Semi Ojeleye’s 26 points and 14 rebounds in his debut. Overall, the Mustangs had a successful first game of the season after making some adjustments, and they will look to continue that upward trend against Eastern Michigan.
Scouting Eastern Michigan
In Coach Rob Murphy’s sixth season at the helm, the Eagles were picked to finish first in the MAC west division, and they showed in their first game that they can live up to that after almost beating Pittsburgh in double overtime. Eastern Michigan runs an effective 2/3 zone, which forced the Panthers into 33 3-pointers Friday night. Personnel wise, the Eagles have some talent across the board. EMU brings back its top-4 scorers from last season. They are led by senior Ray Lee, but also have young talent inside with James Thompson. Tim Bond is also another upperclassman to keep an eye on because of his length.
Three Players to Watch
F James Thompson IV (6-foot-10, 215 pounds, Sophomore): The 2015-2016 MAC freshman of the Year is expected to build off of his success from last year. Thompson was named to the preseason Lou Henson award watch list, which is given to the best mid-major men’s basketball player in the country. He had 8 points and 13 rebounds in the Eagles’ first contest of the season. The sophomore is a great rebounder and takes advantage of his height and length inside.
G Ray Lee (6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Senior): In their first game this season, Lee led the Eagles with 27 points on 9-22 shooting in their first game after averaging 15.1 points last season. The senior is the leader of this group, and can do a little bit of everything. He shoots the three fairly well (36.6% last season), and is the active leading scorerin the MAC with nearly 1,500 career points.
G Tim Bond (6-foot-7, 215 pounds, Junior): Bond was named to the MAC all-defensive team last season, so it’s safe to say he is their best defensive player. The junior has incredible length that can cause problems for any guard. He is a great on ball defender, and it showed last season with his 67 steals which led the MAC. Overall, Bond is an athletic player for the Green and White who can do a little bit of everything.
F James Thompson IV
G Tim Bond
G Ty Toney
F Nick Madray
G Ray Lee
Matchup to Watch
James Thompson vs. Semi Ojeleye: This is going to be one physical matchup between too quality low-point players. Don’t be surprised to see Harry Froling get more time with Thompson as well, but Ojeleye should welcome the challenge of facing a bigger player. At Thompson’s size, he should be able to defend the Duke transfer well, but Ojeleye’s athleticism will play a big factor in his performance.
Keys to the Game
After struggling in the first half of Friday’s game against Gardner-Webb, SMU needs to continue to build off of their improvements from the second half. Taking care of the ball will be important, especially while playing a strong defensive team like EMU. The Eagles will likely look to do what they did against the Panthers Friday night, which is take advantage of their size down low. Their defensive duo of Thompson and Bond make them a dangerous team, especially if the Mustangs find themselves in foul trouble. The Eagles’ zone could also be a problem for the Mustangs if they start missing three-point shots. If that happens, SMU needs to recognize that and attack the rim.