1. Semi Ojeleye Emerging as SMU's Clear Leader
It's taken a little bit of time for SMU to fill the void of Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert leaving, but in recent games and especially tonight Semi Ojeleye has stepped up to the plate. In a game that had trap game written all over it coming off a big win over Stanford, Ojeleye kept SMU in the game with 17 first half points including going 4 for 4 from behind the arc. The 6-7 junior finished the night with 28 points and 5 rebounds keeping SMU going against a tough Albany squad. With Ben Moore and Sterling Brown being held to just 2 points on 2 shots combined, the Mustangs needed Ojeleye to step up and dominate the way he did. With little margin for error heading into the second half of the year, SMU will need a similar effort from Ojeleye, who has only been held to single digits just once all season.
2. Free Throw Shooting Continues to be an Issue
The Mustangs have reached the end of conference play, and still are having major problems at the free throw line. The Mustangs finished 13-24, a whopping 54 percent, with Semi hitting three late free throws to make this look a little better than it was. With conference play now upon us, this may be something down the road that costs SMU in close battles with a team like Cincinnati, Houston, UConn or any other games that could be close down the stretch. Earlier this week, coach Jankovich mentioned with no classes the next couple of weeks, this would be the biggest opportunity to improve. It is fair to wonder if we may not see free throw shooting incorporated into practice a little more than it has been.
3. Small Ball Continuing to Work
When SMU was forced to go with a smaller lineup thanks to the departure of Harry Froling, one of the biggest areas we thought they might struggle was on the glass. As has been the case most of the year, SMU won the battle of the boards again and has been particularly effective on the offensive glass. Tonight it was Jarrey Foster and Semi Ojeleye who combined for 5 offensive rebounds with Ben Moore also chipping in a couple in the second half as well. The Mustangs have done a nice using their quickness to be in the right spots for rebounds and this success certainly gives reasons for optimism down the road. Jarrey Foster has been great for SMU the past couple of games, finishing with 9 rebounds in 2 of his last 3 games, while also grabbing 7 against Stanford.