After starting conference play with two wins in their first two games, SMU brought their high-flying offense back to Moody Coliseum for their American Athletic Conference home opener against Temple.
It took a few minutes but the Mustangs were able to get into a rhythm, taking an 18-point lead into the lockerroom at halftime and held off a late surge by Temple to win 79-65 Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum. It was SMU’s ninth straight win.
However, the current winning streak isn’t on the minds of the Mustangs.
“I didn’t know we had one to be honest,” said guard Shake Milton after the win. “It doesn’t really matter, just come to practice, get better and prepare for the game.”
“I try not to think in those terms but every now and then it does creep into your head,” added head coach Tim Jankovich. “Believe me I hate clichés, just about the next game and all, I don’t want to sound that way but I really like to stay really, really narrow and not think of big picture stuff. It seems to help me.”
Forward Semi Ojeleye led the Mustangs with 19 points and nine rebounds. Milton and forward Ben Moore added 18 points while guard Jarrey Foster chipped in with 13 points as SMU moves to 13-3 on the season (3-0 in AAC).
SMU has the ability to light up the scoreboard with strong perimeter shooting and highlight dunks, but one big reason for the current winning streak is the defense. The Mustangs held opponents to 60 points or less in the eight games until Temple’s defense started to create some havoc late, scoring 13 points off turnovers in the second half.
“I think if anything we got a little lackadaisical,” said Milton. “It’s really no excuse. We should have come out with more fire.”
“I don’t think they made too many big adjustments,” added Moore. “They definitely picked the pressure up on defense. I think the biggest thing was our defense. We weren’t locked in like we should’ve been.”
The play on the offensive side of the court has been just as important during the current winning streak. The three-guard system of Milton, Foster and Sterling Brown have their ability to penetrate the lane and spot up from beyond the arc for the wide open three, which was a key in the first half against Temple. This also opens up Moore and Ojeleye down low for the rebound or dish-off for the easy score. Both forwards also have the ability to drive the lane and create shots themselves.
SMU stays at home to face South Florida on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
Other news and notes:
* Moore, a senior, went over the 1,000-career point mark at SMU.
* SMU has now won 14 straight games at home.
* The Mustangs are 22-3 with Jankovich as head coach.