Shake Milton (Photo by Matt Visinsky)

Three Takeaways: SMU at Connecticut

SMU beat Connecticut 69-61 in Hartford on Saturday for its 11th straight win. PonyStampede's Patrick Engel has three takeaways from the game.

Shake Milton goes off in first half

Whatever Milton ate for breakfast, it's surely to become a more popular meal. He made six 3-pointers in the first half and was SMU's best offensive player for the first 20 minutes. He hit 3s against both UConn's zone and man. Each of SMU's other four starters had an assist on at least one Milton 3-pointer. On the final possession of the first half, Milton drew extra attention with the ball on the perimeter and no one picked up Ben Moore's cut to the basket. Milton found him for a lob. Milton only scored two points in the second half, but still finished with a game-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds.

Surviving foul trouble

SMU held an 11-point halftime lead and didn't allow an extensive UConn run despite some foul trouble, which SMU usually avoids. Sterling Brown and Semi Ojeleye each sat the rest of the first half after getting two fouls: Brown's second foul came with 12:14 to go, and Ojeleye's with 9:45 left. Ben Moore also had two first-half fouls, but stayed in the game and didn't pick up his third. Ben Emelogu played in Brown's place, and had a rough first half. He was defending on both of UConn's first-half 3-pointers, and allowed a couple more open looks that didn't go in. He also committed a turnover when he dribbled into two guys that led to a layup. SMU put in Leo Kontopoulos for a possession when Moore picked up his second foul, but sat him after he gave up a 3-point play. Dashawn McDowell played for the first time since Feb. 4, and held his own. Also, SMU made one field goal in the last 4:51 of the first half after starting the game 11-for-20 from the floor. SMU rode out the foul issues and still played a strong first half.

Rare rebounding inconsistency

SMU came into Saturday's game averaging about 10 more rebounds per game than its opponents. Though the Mustangs out-rebounded UConn 37 to 36, the Huskies had 11 offensive rebounds. SMU rebounded better in the second half, allowing just one offensive rebound. Part of that, though, was UConn shooting better in the second half and taking more 3-pointers. UConn big men Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey combined for 20 rebounds. Facey had four offensive and also scored 15 points, eight of which came when one-on-one with Semi Ojeleye. Brimah had four blocks and forced some missed and altered shots, though SMU went right at him at other times and scored or went to the line. The rebounding inconsistency didn't hurt SMU, but did help UConn prevent a blowout in the first half and limit SMU's second chances.


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