Rapid Reaction: SMU Mustangs at Memphis Tigers

SMU opened conference play with a narrow 58-54 road victory over Memphis.

How it happened

In their first conference game of the season, SMU scratched out a narrow 58-54 victory for their first road win of the season. It was a defensive battle for most of the game with neither team having much of a rhythm offensively. Semi Ojeleye led the way for SMU with 11 first-half points to go with 4 rebounds. The Mustangs depth was also tested early when Ben Moore headed to the bench with two fouls just 10 minutes in. Ojeleye also did a nice job holding Dedric Lawson down in the first half to just 9 points on 3 of 9 shooting. He finished with 14 points, but on just 4 of 12 shooting. The defensive struggle continued in the second half with both sides opting to go to trap zones causing problems for both sides. Late in the game, SMU's senior leaders began to get involved and attack the rim at a high clip. Leading the way for SMU after a quiet first half was Sterling Brown who had 9 second half points to provide a second scoring option along with Ojeleye. Despite struggling on the offensive end, SMU's defense both in zone and man to man was huge as they held Memphis to 35% shooting for the game that proved to be the difference.

What it means

In just their third true road game of the season, SMU showed they still have a lot of room to grow offensively. It was  encouraging for SMU to see Ojeleye, Brown and others step up down the stretch in a spot Nic Moore would have taken over for SMU last year. This is something they are going to continue to need, especially as the offense continues to evolve away from Moody.

Player of the Game: Semi Ojeleye

Ojeleye was fantastic tonight on both ends of the floor. Coming into this game, the biggest focus was on slowing down Memphis big-man Dedric Lawson and Ojeleye did just that. The junior forward forced Lawson out on the perimeter where he was settling for threes most of the night. The 6-7 junior was also SMU's only consistent performer on the offensive end collecting his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Side Note

With 6 minutes to play in the first half and Ben Moore in foul trouble, coach Jankovich turned to Memphis native Jonathan Wilfong who played two minutes and had one rebound while struggling on the offensive end. SMU also struggled from the free throw line going 11 of 19, however, they were 4 for 4 down the stretch.

What's Next

SMU is back on the road again when they visit East Carolina Saturday at 11am CT on ESPN3.

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