Matt Visinsky

Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. McNeese State

SMU won its fourth straight game Wednesday night against McNeese State, 92-56, to move to 8-3 this season.

How it Happened

When you have a 22-point lead at the under-eight timeout of the first half, it's probably going to be a good day. SMU won 92-56 against a 2-6 McNeese State team that couldn't even beat UConn.

SMU got whatever it wanted offensively, proving too quick for McNeese State on the perimeter and in the post. It made 12 of 23 3-point attempts, its its best mark this season. Shake Milton, who came in shooting 35 percent from 3-point range, made his first four attempts from 3. Semi Ojeleye went 4-for-7 from 3. 

McNeese State's guards couldn't get by SMU on the perimeter, so they resorted to shooting a lot of 3s and didn't run many complicated offensive sets to get most of them. A majority were catch-and-shoot without using any kind of screen, but SMU gave the Cowboys' shooters too much space or didn't get a hand up at times. They started 5-for-10 from deep before finishing 11-for-26 (41 percent). On a couple rare times SMU allowed dribble drives, it forgot about a shooter and left an open shot, thought they weren't always made.

What it Means

SMU had a week off, its longest layoff of the season. The Mustangs had no trouble handling a lesser mid-major opponent for an entire game, which they didn't do against Delaware State. SMU's 12-for-23 shooting day from 3 was the type expected from a team that Tim Jankovich touted as having lots of shooting depth. Five different players made a 3. Getting Milton going from 3 is important after he was one of SMU's best shooters a season ago. SMU struggled to defend 3-pointers again, an issue in most of its games this year. But it limited dribble drives, which it struggled to do for stretches against TCU and earlier this season against Michigan, USC and Boise State.

Player of the Game

Shake Milton. The sophomore had a team-high 17 points while also grabbing seven rebounds and adding three assists. Most importantly, he had his best shooting night of the year, both from deep and from mid-range. In a little more time playing off the ball, he looked comfortable. SMU ran a couple curls with him to get him elbow jumpers, and he hit two shots in those situations.

Side Note

SMU played its first game after Harry Froling left the team. With just two scholarship big men and Semi Ojeleye in foul trouble in the first half, SMU used a 4-guard lineup that featured mostly Sterling Brown as the fourth guard. He posted 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Dashawn McDowell and Tom Wilson played extended minutes and each had a couple possessions to handle the ball, allowing Shake Milton to move off it. Ben Emelogu also ran point on occasion. He finished with a season-high nine points and also had six assists.

What's Next

SMU hosts Stanford Monday at Moody Coliseum. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. CT. and the game is on ESPN2.


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