Defense and Rebounding the Formula for SMU
It wasn't a pretty game for SMU offensively with 14 turnovers and stagnant offense at times, but it didn't matter with the way SMU played defensively and on the glass. Tulsa was held to just 36% shooting and compounded that by coughing it up 15 times. SMU capitalized on this to finish with 10 points off of those turnovers. The Mustangs also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Golden Hurricanes 38-23. It was the same story for SMU in road wins over Memphis and UCF where both games also turned into grind it out type of games. This was a little different as SMU was able to get things rolling in the second half, but the way they played defense throughout, there was no way Tulsa was hanging in this one. One of the best examples of this was Ben Moore and how he was able to affect the game. He didn't have the best night offensively, but with 10 rebounds, 5 assists,to go with a steal and a block, Moore's length made a big impact. Going forward, SMU will definitely need to stay aggressive offensively, but they can always hang their hat on great defense and rebounding to win tough games at home or on the road.
Sterling Brown Taking His Game Up a Notch
Brown was fantastic on both ends of the floor finishing with a career high 27 points and 5 rebounds. The senior guard played all 40 minutes for SMU and was able to get things going offensively when not much else right was happening before halftime. Brown took over in the second half scoring 24 of his 27 points including three 3-pointers to help open the game up. The senior guard was also his scrappy self collecting a couple of rebounds off his own misses. In the past couple games, Brown has consistently crashed the glass in addition to scoring and tonight was much of the same. Brown sees the NCAA tournament is within reach and is doing everything he can to make sure SMU is playing in it.
SMU Needs More from Emelogu and McDowell
SMU doesn't need Ben Emelogu and Dashawn McDowell to go score 15 points, but they desperately need more than what they got tonight from them. The two combined for 15 minutes, 0 points and 3 rebounds. Two put into perspective how rough it was for those two, James Pyle had SMU's only two points off the bench with a late basket and also chipped in a couple rebounds. It's a long season and playing 40 minutes per night will eventually catch up to Brown, Milton and Ojeleye, but SMU has no choice if they can't get any production from the bench. Granted SMU won by 23, but looking in the bigger picture this is concerning and something that will certainly need to be straightened out for a trap game at Temple before the big one against Cincinnati next Sunday.