Matt Visinsky

Game Preview: SMU vs. Pittsburgh

Scott previews SMU's matchup in the 2K Classic against Pittsburgh in Madison Square Garden on Thursday at 6 pm CT.

When: Thursday, November 17 at 6 p.m. CT
Where: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
TV/Radio: ESPN2/KAAM 770 AM
Series: First meeting between the schools

Pony Trends

The Mustangs continued their successful play to start the season on Sunday, handing Eastern Michigan a 91-64 loss.   Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye once again dominated the box score with 18 points and eight rebounds, but we saw a truly dominating team performance from the Mustangs against the Eagles.  Five total players scored in double figures, and the team had 26 assists on 29 made field goals.

Scouting Pittsburgh

The Panthers are one of the biggest teams SMU will face this year.  They have lots of length, and they have six players 6-foot-8 or taller, including three in their starting lineup.  Despite all of that size, the Panthers have still allowed opponents to score 170 points in their first two games.  But even with some struggles on the defensive end of the court, the Panthers have fully embraced first-year head coach Kevin Stallings’ up-tempo style of play.  Pittsburgh has taken 59 three-point shots in two games, while shooting 50 percent from downtown in their latest contest against Gardener-Webb.  They also had an impressive 29 assists on 35 field goals.

Three Players to Watch

F Jamel Artis (6-foot-7, 215 pounds, Senior): Artis is the first half of a forceful duo with fellow upperclassman Michael Young.  The senior point forward has fantastic handles for a player his size, and he’s a player that can score from all over the floor.  His size also makes him a solid rebounder, and his aggressive nature makes him a great candidate for second-chance points.

F Michael Young (6-foot-9, 235 pounds, Senior): A reigning third team All-ACC performer, Young, the second part of the front court dynamic duo, was named to the Karl Malone Award watch list that goes to the nation’s top power forward.  Although Young did not start last game due to a violation of team rules, he still managed to drop 18 points and grab 7 rebounds.  At his size, Young is a reliable interior player who can also shoot the three-ball quite well (made 2-3 last game).

G Cameron Johnson (6-foot-8, 210 pounds, Sophomore): Johnson is likely one of the most versatile guards SMU will face this year.  The underclassman emerged as a long-distance threat last year and has continued that play into this year (made 5-10 on the season).  At his size, Johnson’s frame allows him to drive to the basket with ease as well.  

Projected Starters:
F Jamel Artis
G Chris Jones
G  Cameron Johnson
F Michael Young
F Sheldon Jeter

Matchup to Watch

Michael Young vs. Semi Ojeleye: We’ve seen Ojeleye dominate his opponents inside the first two games of the year, but he has not played someone with Young’s skills yet.  The Duke transfer will have his hands full with the 6-foot-9 forward, which should make for an entertaining matchup.  Both players are key contributors on the offensive end of the court, so they will need to defend each other effectively without getting in foul trouble.  Both players can score from all over the court, but it will be interesting to see if one player starts to settle for the outside shot.

Matt Visinsky

Keys to the Game

Both the Mustangs and Panthers are teams that like to run the floor and take lots of shots, which should make for some entertaining basketball.  In the end, this game will likely come down to a few things.  First, Pittsburgh has give up at least 80 points to both of their opponents this year.  If that happens again, it won’t end well for the Panthers.  With Pittsburgh’s size advantage, they will try to take advantage of that inside.  SMU will need to stay out of foul trouble and rebound well.  Passing lanes will also be smaller thanks to Pittsburgh’s length, so avoiding turnovers, which lead to transition baskets, is important as well.

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