Matt Visinsky

Game Preview: SMU at Tulsa

PonyStampede's Phil Mayer previews SMU's road game at Tulsa Saturday night.

When: Saturday, February 4 at 6 PM C.T. 

Where: Donald W. Reynolds Center (Tulsa, OK)

TV/Radio: ESPNEWS/KAAM 770

Series: Tulsa leads 31-17

Last Meeting: Tulsa won 82-77 in Moody Coliseum.

Pony Trends

SMU kept on rolling with a monster win over ECU Wednesday night. The Ponies have been a class above most of their AAC opponents and remain undefeated in Moody Coliseum. SMU held ECU to 46 points in the game, and 20 at halftime, as their defense continued their streak of suffocating opponents. SMU's offense was getting just about whatever they wanted, getting lots of open threes and easy transition buckets. 

Scouting Tulsa

After starting the season with an ugly loss to Jacksonville State, Tulsa has rebounded nicely to compile a 6-3 in-conference record. They have a couple of solid wins in the conference over Memphis and UCF, but suffered an embarrassing loss to ECU last week. The Golden Hurricane has been impressive in its last two games, beating UCF by 11 and leading Cincinnati in the final minutes, before letting the game slip away. The Reynolds Center is a tough place to play, as Tulsa is 8-3 at home this season. 

Tulsa Players to Watch

F Junior Etou: The Rutgers transfer has played well in his first season in Tulsa, leading the Golden Hurricane in both points and rebounds, at 12.6 and 6.9, respectively. Impressively, Etou has his team high scoring average on just 7.6 shots per game. 

G Jaleel Wheeler: The freshman from Newark is second on the team with 10.1 points per game. He has also rebounded well for a guard, averaging 4.1 per contest. Wheeler has cooled off in conference play after a fast start, scoring double digits in just three of his nine conference matches.

G Sterling Taplin: Taplin, Tulsa's point guard has had a solid season in his first year as a starter. He is leading the team with 3.5 assists per game to along with 9.2 points. He is turnover prone, coughing it up 2.4 times per game.

Projected Tulsa Starters:

G Sterling Taplin

G Pat Birt

G Jaleel Wheeler

F Martins Igbanu

F Junior Etou

Projected SMU Starters

G Shake Milton

G Jarrey Foster

G Sterling Brown

F Ben Moore

F Semi Ojeleye

Matchup to Watch

Shake Milton vs. Sterling Taplin: Milton, an Oklahoma native, lit it up last time he played in Tulsa. He knocked down seven of his eight three point attempts, notching a season high 24 points. Milton has also been on a tear recently, scoring at least 19 points in each of his last four games. With both of these factors in play, Tulsa will have their hands full with Milton. Taplin will have to play a great defensive game to keep Milton quiet. 

Keys to the Game

One key for SMU is to play the passing lanes. SMU grabbed 13 steals against ECU last game, and they will have a chance to repeat that performance against a Tulsa team that turns it over 15.3 times per game. Another thing to look out for is how much Tim Jankovich plays Dashawn McDowell. McDowell played 13 minutes Wednesday night, his most since conference play began. He looked more comfortable on the floor, albeit against a terrible ECU team, but it will be interesting to see if Jankovich trusts McDowell with more minutes in a game taking place in his home state. 


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