Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. Pitt

SMU improves to 3-0 and advances to the 2K Classic title game with a 76-67 win over Pitt.

How it happened

SMU took down Pitt in the first game of the 2K Classic, 76-67. The Mustangs received strong contributions from Semi Ojeleye, Shake Milton and Ben Moore. The first half was a story of runs. After SMU built an 11-5 lead, a couple of Cam Johnson threes pushed Pitt out on a 15-4 run. Next, SMU took their turn. The momentum shifted in the Mustangs' favor, as Jarrey Foster threw home a follow dunk on the fast break and Semi Ojeleye chased down Sheldon Jeter for a block on the other end. SMU continued to play well for the next few minutes, as Dashawn McDowell and Sterling Brown hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 16-0 run. However, Pitt's head coach Kevin Stallings countered by switching into a 3-2 zone, which SMU could not figure out. The Mustangs did not score in the last 6:04 of the half, and Pitt went into halftime with a 33-31 lead. Shake Milton only played eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. The Panthers started out the second half in man, but after a couple of quick SMU baskets, they went back into the zone. However, SMU was ready for it, as Shake Milton found Ojeleye cutting along the baseline for an alley-oop on their first second-half play against the 3-2. The Mustangs continued to battle the zone well, moving the ball to free up shooters. Ojeleye took over the second half, scoring 20 points in the second after putting up just four in the first. SMU played a solid half as a whole, getting into the bonus early and maintaining a lead by going to the line consistently. With 3:33 left, SMU led by 8 and Jamel Artis traveled for Pitt. Sterling Brown clapped in his face, receiving his second technical of the game and thus getting ejected. Even without Brown, SMU held their lead and closed out the Panthers with good free throw shooting at the end. Ojeleye closed out the game for SMU, getting a monster block and a couple of layups in the final minutes.

What it means

In their first challenge of the season, SMU performed admirably. After being slowed down by the zone in the first half, Jankovich adjusted and SMU's offense looked much smoother against the zone. So far, Jankovich has silenced everyone who doubted that he could step in for Brown and keep the team playing at a high level. He has seemingly pushed all of the right buttons. Milton and Ojeleye both played well in the second half, showing that they are pack a powerful 1-2 punch. 

Player of the Game

Semi Ojeleye. After a quiet first half, Ojeleye erupted for 20 points in the second. The big man scored from all over, hitting jumpers, getting layups and making free throws. Ojeleye finished with 24 points, six rebounds and two blocks, shooting an efficient 9-17 from the field.  

Side Note

When Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster got in foul trouble in the first half. Tim Jankovich put in Dashawn McDowell. Tom Wilson had played over McDowell in the first couple of games.

What's Next

SMU plays the winner of Michigan vs. Marquette tomorrow at 6 PM CT. 

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