1. Semi Ojeleye Carried SMU
On a night when every other SMU player seemed to be cold, Semi Ojeleye routinely bailed SMU out by making a tough shot or getting to the line. Mustangs who were not Ojeleye finished the night 0-9 from three, while Ojeleye made four triples himself. Some scorers will chuck bad shots on nights when they are feeling it, but Ojeleye takes his shots in the flow of the offense, letting the game come to him. He also took a couple of very hard falls, but bounced back up and continued dominating. Semi finished the night with a career high 30 points, to go along with ten rebounds. This was the best game of his career, and he was invaluable on a night where no other Mustang could seem to get a bucket.
2. SMU Out-hustled Temple
SMU came into tonight's game sitting at second place in the NCAA with a +11 rebound margin. They continued the trend by out-rebounding Temple 49-32. SMU does not possess elite size, as their tallest rotation played stands at 6'8", but they always outwork opponents. Led by Ben Moore and Sterling Brown, SMU seems to consistently win 50-50 balls by going after every loose ball slightly harder than their opponent. SMU got some critical points tonight by snagging multiple offensive rebounds in a row, simply refusing to let Temple get the ball back. SMU's hustle will help immensely in games that come down to the final handful of possessions.
3. SMU's Defense Continues to Smother Opponents
SMU is simply dominating on defense. They held Temple to just 18 first half points, briefly implementing a press defense that made Temple struggle to cross half-court. SMU forced the Owls into tough shots and turnovers for most of the night. At the end of the game, Temple scored 50 points on 30.7% shooting and committed 16 turnovers. One late game possession seemed to epitomize SMU's defensive success this year. Temple swung the ball around the perimeter as SMU defenders scrambled to get into position. Eventually, a Temple player drove into the lane and Jarrey Foster drew a charge.