Shake Milton returns to Tulsa
Shake Milton is a native of Owasso, Oklahoma, which is a short distance from Tulsa. In his first game back in his hometown as a freshman, Milton poured in 24 points and knocked down seven 3s. He had another impressive effort in Tulsa this year, hitting five 3s and scoring 19 points. Earlier this year, I asked Milton what it would mean to him to play an NCAA Tournament game in Tulsa.
"It would be huge. As a team it would be a really big boost. It would be cool," he responded with a grin.
Tim Jankovich echoed similar thoughts in today's press conference.
"He's excited," Jankovich said. "He always seems to play really well here and I hope that holds."
SMU could look for Milton to get some shots early to get going again in his hometown.
Rematch Against USC
One of SMU's four losses this season came against USC, when the Trojans took down the Mustangs 78-73 in a November game in California. Of course, the two teams are very different from when they last met. SMU is 26-2 since that meeting, while USC is 20-9. The SMU team agrees that this matchup is very different from the last one.
"We've come a long way since the first matchup," Sterling Brown said. "I feel like we got better in all areas and we're just ready, ready for the game."
Tim Jankovich also feels that SMU has evolved greatly from their last matchup.
"I doubt something that happened in November is probably the biggest deal," Jankovich said. "I know we are a completely different team that we were then."
The fact that SMU lost earlier this year gives them extra motivation for this rematch.
"It definitely does (give us extra motivation)," Brown said. "Getting the chance to play them again, that's something special... we got a lot behind us."
Ben Moore echoed Brown's thoughts.
"We're excited to play them again," Moore said. "We feel like we owe 'em one."
Last Shot at March Madness for Sterling Brown and Ben Moore
While they are the winningest class in the history of SMU's program, Ben Moore and Sterling Brown have still not won an NCAA Tournament game. They consider it crucial to win a game this year.
"It would mean everything because what we're trying to build is winning basketball," Moore said.
In its last tournament, SMU was also a six seed playing against a school from Southern California, and they lost in heartbreaking fashion. Brown shared one lesson that he learned from his previous experience in the Big Dance.
"I mean, pretty much just take every possession, just cherish it," he said. "Don't take it for granted. Late in the game we gave up a couple easy baskets and turned the ball over. You gotta take care of every possession."