Sterling Brown (Photo by Matt Visinsky)

Three Takeaways: SMU vs. Cincinnati

Three takeaways from SMU's 60-51 statement win over Cincinnati.

SMU gets burned by threes early, before locking in late

In the first 25 minutes of the game, SMU players helped too far off their man, leaving Cincinnati shooters open from deep. The Bearcats made nine of their first 18 three point attempts. For a lot of the game, Cincy's strategy was to enter the ball to Kyle Washington or Gary Clark in the post, draw a double team and get a kick-out three. Cincinnati went on a couple of runs that were fueled by flurries of threes. However, when SMU took away those looks, Cincinnati had nothing to turn to. At the end of the game, SMU locked in on defense and recovered much quicker when they helped. This forced possessions that went deep into the shot clock and ended with tough three-point attempts. After their hot start, Cincinnati made just two of their final 14 attempts from beyond the arc, finishing 11-32. 

Ben Emelogu proved his worth

In the biggest game of SMU's season, the much-maligned Ben Emelogu played the best he has all year. When SMU trailed by nine with 15 minutes remaining, Emelogu spearheaded a vital 21-2 run. He contributed with two threes, a couple of assists, and an alley-oop dunk, invigorating Moody Coliseum. Emelogu will be the first to admit that his shot has been inconsistent this year, but he has played solid defense and moved the ball well lately. It is huge for SMU when Emelogu contributes of offense and his man has to pay attention to him, instead of helping on SMU's more potent scores. 

SMU is the best team in the American and Semi Ojeleye is conference's best player

SMU and Cincinnati have been the two best teams in the conference this year by a country mile, and SMU just proved that they are better than Cincinnati. They've outscored Cincinnati by seven points total over the course of those two games. SMU should see a large jump in the rankings after this big win. When SMU struggled in the first half, Ojeleye carried the Mustangs. He scored 13 of their 28 first-half points and kept the game close. Ojeleye is third in the conference in scoring behind Rob Gray Jr. of Houston and Dedric Lawson of Memphis, but he is more well-rounded than both of those players. He should be the favorite for AAC player of the year. 

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