How it Happened
UCF and SMU went back and forth for much of the first half in large part thanks to Matt Williams of UCF, who had 14 points at the half and didn't score another basket all game. SMU went on a bit of a run at the end of the first half to open its lead up eight with 2:05 to go and ended with a nine-point lead. SMU finished the first half with a couple scares in terms of foul trouble with Shake Milton, Sterling Brown and Ben Emelogu all with two fouls on the night. From there, SMU fouled three times total in the second half.
SMU showed what was to come for the rest of the game as it started the second half off with a dunk from Ben Moore. Even after 7-6 Tacko Fall answered with a dunk, SMU was unfazed as the teams traded three-point baskets as SMU kept its nine-point lead for much of the second half. The Knights were lead by BJ Taylor and Matt Wiliams, who both finished in double digits on the night. Even as UCF tried to chip away and cut the lead to six late, SMU got enough key baskets to edge UCF in Orlando. With 2:24 to go, Milton found Ben Moore, who put in the easy layup. That helped SMU avoid UCF from coming back and the teams entered a free throw shooting contest at the end and UCF didn't make enough plays at the end. SMU finished out with the win because of that as SMU lead for the entire second half.
What it Means
SMU gets through its tough AAC matchup without Jarrey Foster, who was in concussion protocol and just unable to go for the Mustangs. With a week off now, SMU will be with Foster in all likelihood when ECU comes to town next Wednesday. It was hard fought, but SMU played smart (and at a snail's pace) to get the road win.
Player of the Game: Semi Ojeleye
Along with Moore, Ojeleye did an outstanding job on Fall, who was 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ojeleye though had 16 points and five rebounds on the night, just edging Moore's 14 points. Ojeleye was aggressive and with the team defense, helped shut down Fall and denied him the ball as he finished with just seven field goal attempts.
Even though SMU managed to get into that little bit of foul trouble, SMU played a relatively clean game overall and took advantage of UCF's miscues. UCF finished with 15 turnovers and SMU added 13 points off those turnovers. SMU was outrebounded 36-32, but overall, it was a good effort especially on the offensive glass for SMU.
SMU has a week off before hosting East Carolina on February 1 at 8:30 p.m. CT in Moody Coliseum, which also happens to fall on National Signing Day. The game will be televised on ESPNews.