Matt Visinsky

Game Preview: SMU vs. Memphis for Senior Night and battle to win outright AAC Championship

Pony Stampede previews SMU's Senior Night on Saturday against Memphis at 3 p.m. CT, where the Mustangs will battle for the outright regular season American Athletic Conference Championship.

SMU (26-4 overall, 16-1 in AAC play) vs. Memphis (19-11 overall, 9-8 in AAC)
WHEN
: Saturday, March 4 at 3 p.m. CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum (Dallas, Texas)
TV/RADIO: ESPN2 | 770 KAAM AM
SERIES: SMU trails 9-12
LAST MEETING: SMU beat Memphis 58-54 on December 27. 

Mustang Trends

SMU set themselves up with a chance to win the American conference outright Saturday with a victory over Memphis. The Mustangs coming in playing their best basketball of the season winners of 12 straight and 22 of their last 23. The Mustangs have been moving the ball much better as of late in their position-less offense, as evidence by all 5 starters for the Mustangs finishing in double figures in SMU’s 93-70 rout over Tulsa. Saturday will also be senior day for Jonathan Wilfong, Ben Moore and Sterling Brown which is sure to be emotional day at Moody for two of SMU’s winningest players. As has been the case much of the year, SMU is riding the hot play of Semi Ojeleye who has 42 points in SMU’s last two games. 

SMU guard Shake Milton (Photo by Matt Visinsky)

Scouting Memphis  

Memphis is coming off an easy win over Tulane to snap a four game losing streak, but has struggled since the beginning of February losing 5 of 7. Despite some good size, the Tigers have struggled rebounding the ball, ranking 107th in the nation at 37.1 rebounds per game. The Tigers have also struggled scoring the ball only topping the 70-point mark in just 3 of their last 7 games. Memphis is led by Dedric Lawson who is averaging a double-double at 19 points and 10 rebounds per game to go along with a couple of assists. Lawson has not had a lot of help though and this offense tends to stagnate and various points throughout the game. 

Memphis Players to Watch

G K.J Lawson: Dedric’s brother K.J is also having a really good second season with the Tigers. The guard is averaging just over 12 points and 8 rebounds on the season although he has been up and down for much of the year. K.J also had a miserable day the first matchup against SMU going 2-9 while playing all 40 minutes. The Lawson brothers are what make Memphis go and if SMU can do a similar job to the first matchup on K.J, the Tigers are once again going to have problems scoring. 

F Dedric Lawson: The sophomore forward is having another solid year averaging a double-double at 19 points and 10 rebounds per game. Lawson is coming off a 29-point performance over Tulane where he was an efficient 11-15 in 33 minutes. SMU did a great job frustrating him in their first matchup and forced him to take a lot more shots from the perimeter than he usually takes. If SMU wants to finish off their great conference run, this is going to be a key focal point once again. 

G Jeremiah Martin: As Craig Randall’s minutes have gone down over the course of the season, Jeremiah Martin’s has continued to rise. After playing just 13 minutes his freshman season, the sophomore guard is averaging close to 35 minutes in his second year with the Tigers. One of the main reasons for this has been his on-ball defending to go along with a little better decision making and scoring output. Martin gave SMU problems in their first matchup going for 16 points while grabbing 4 boards. 

Projected Memphis Starters:
G Jeremiah Martin
G Markel Crawford
G K.J Lawson
F Jimario Rivers
F Dedric Lawson  

Projected SMU Starters: 
G Shake Milton
G Sterling Brown
G Jarrey Foster
F Ben Moore
F Semi Ojeleye

Matchup to Watch 

Semi Ojeleye vs. Dedric Lawson: This is going to be a fun one to watch if it’s anything like the first game. SMU’s junior forward was able to frustrate Lawson and keep him on the perimeter for much of the game. Ojeleye was also SMU’s only consistent scorer going for 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead SMU. There’s no doubt Lawson will want to atone for this performance, but if we have learned anything about Semi this year he will be ready for this matchup. 

Matt Visinsky

Keys to the Game

SMU has come a long way offensively since their first game against Memphis which could have easily ended in a loss. As has been the key pretty much all conference season, SMU needs to stay out of foul trouble with multiple players. The Mustangs also need to continue to move the ball the way they have the past couple of games especially in their impressive passing performance against Tulsa. Finally, one of the biggest reasons SMU was able to hold down Memphis in their first matchup was restricting the Lawson brothers to outside shots. This will be key Saturday afternoon if SMU wants to end the season strong heading into the conference tournament. 

***SENIOR NIGHT NOTES***

  • In-N-Out & Pollo Tropical will be giving away free food to the first fans in attendance on Bolin Plaza starting at 1 p.m.
  • Doors to Moody Coliseum will open at 1:30 p.m.
  • At 2:46 p.m., Senior Day Ceremony begins featuring Ben Moore, Sterling Brown and Jonathan Wilfong.
  • At 2:55 p.m., intro video and starting lineups.
  • Tip-off will be at 3 p.m. 
  • Fans are encouraged to stay in their seats following the game to hear the Senior class address the crowd.
  • SENIOR DAY T-SHIRT GIVEAWAY | Lower Level Seats: The t-shirt will be placed on seat. You DO NOT need to pick up a shirt outside Moody Coliseum on Bolin Plaza. Upper Level Seats: 1,500 Shirts will be available on a first come, first serve basis. You must pick up the shirt on Bolin Plaza prior to entering Moody Coliseum.

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