Just fine without Foster...at least for today
Jarrey Foster did not play in the second half due to injury, making SMU's six-man (with an occasional seventh) rotation even thinner. Tim Jankovich said he doesn't know all the information about it or how long he'll be out. SMU played the same lineup of Shake Milton, Ben Emelogu, Sterling Brown, Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye for most of the second half, basically securing the win with five people. Freshman Dashawn McDowell spelled Brown when he got in foul trouble. Emelogu picked a great time for perhaps his best game of the season. He had a season-high 13 points, made a trio of 3-pointers and had four assists. He made some good defensive plays too, though he gave up a few baskets from deep. In the first half, he closed off a lane to the basket, rebounded a contested shot, then took the ball all the way across for a layup when he recognized he had a smaller defender on him. McDowell played eight minutes total. He traveled right when he came in at first, but shortly after made a hustle play where he closed out on a shooter, then dove on a loose ball to secure it. SMU will need more from him if Foster is out for a while. Jonathan Wilfong played a couple minutes in the first half, which he's done before.
Too quick for Houston defenders
SMU's passing (25 assists on 30 field goals) and 3-point shooting (13-for-27) will get a lot of attention and rightfully so, but the Mustangs displayed impressive quickness that Houston's defenders could not match. Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye's face-up games were too much for Houston's bigs: repeatedly drove by Houston center Kyle Meyer for baskets. Brown and Emelogu exploited freshman guard Armoni Brooks for layups, and Milton recognized a mismatch on Wes VanBeck and blew by him for a layup. VanBeck, who had started Houston's last three games, did not start Saturday. The quickness led to defenses collapsing to help when SMU got the ball in the lane, and that created chances for SMU to find open shooters on kick-outs and pass as well as it did. Houston also did a poor job of giving SMU's shooters too much space.
Houston goes bombs away from 3
Houston's game plan became obvious quickly: shoot a lot of 3-pointers. It's not a bad strategy, since more than 40 percent of opponent points against SMU come from 3 and Houston has a deep group of shooters. Houston took 33 3-pointers and only 22 2-pointers. The Cougars made 42 percent of their 3s and SMU gave up some open ones, but they took a lot of early-clock 3s off poor passes and had to chuck up a few late-clock ones with a hand in a shooter's face. SMU allowed them to make only six of their 17 first-half 3-point tries. Sterling Brown locked down whichever player he guarded in the first half, also notching two steals and nearly a third. Houston started running a few isolations for Damyean Dotson in the second half, many with Brown on him. He hit one with Brown in his face, but also hit an open one and beat him to the basket for a layup. Dotson finished with 25 points and went 6-for-10 from 3. Houston scored 25 points in first half, but matched that total in the first 11 minutes of second half. Thanks to SMU shooting 65.4 percent in the second half, it didn't hurt.