From Turmoil to the Tournament?

27 Jan

Last year at this time SMU had little to play for.  The Mustangs were without their head coach Larry Brown for nine games during the season and were banned from postseason play for multiple NCAA infractions, including academic fraud.  They continued to play hard despite the finality of their season and finished 25-5.  They have continued that momentum into the 2016-17 season.

Brown abruptly resigned before the season and assistant Tim Jankovich was named head man.  Also gone are leading scorers Nic Moore and Keith Frazier.  But the Mustangs currently sit at 18-4 including an 8-1 record in the American, the lone loss being a two-point defeat at conference leading Cincinnati.

So how has SMU kept the ball rolling after last season?  One word: defense.  The Mustangs are 4th in the country in points allowed per game at just 59.4.  It is not only the points but they hold opponents under 40% from the field and average almost 40 rebounds per game good enough for 29th in the country.  They share the ball to the tune of nearly 17 assists per game while turning it over just 11.4 times per contest.

Offensively they are averaging over 73 points per game and those points come from a balanced attack with four players in double figures and another on the cusp at 9.6 points.  They are led by junior Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye averaging 17.7 points and seniors Ben Moore and Sterling Brown 11.9 and 11.2 points respectively and sophomore Shake Milton pours in 13.5.  It is those four guys and sophomore Jarrey Foster that pull in 30.9 of the team’s 39 rebounds per game.

Along with Cincinnati the Mustangs are the clear class of their conference and after a season of turmoil from start to finish SMU seems to be in line to show everyone what they missed out on last March.

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