Jimmy Whitt scored a career-high 18 points and Shake Milton added 22 as the SMU Mustangs topped The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 95-64 on Tuesday night.
The Mustangs started hot, taking a 22-10 lead into the under-12 time out in the first half. Whitt was a big part of that, scoring 16 points in the first half alone to set a new career-high in points.
“I haven’t played in like a year, it’s been a while,” Whitt said. “This was just a game where I got into a groove early. It’s a confidence builder.”
Ethan Chargois added 11 first-half points, and made two of four three-pointers, helping the Mustangs to a 49-25 lead at the break. After committing 21 turnovers in a loss against Western Kentucky last Friday, SMU only turned the ball over twice in the first half against the Vaqueros.
In the second half, the Mustangs picked up right where they left off, en route to a 31-point win.
After struggling against Arizona in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Milton scored more than 15 points for the second-straight game. The junior guard finished with 22 points and shot 46.2 percent from the floor.
The Mustangs continued to dominate on the glass, outrebounding the Vaqueros 31-25. 11 of those rebounds came on the offensive side of the floor.
SMU’s big men scored at will on Tuesday night, as the Mustangs racked up 36 points in the paint. UT Rio Grande Valley was overmatched, and could only muster up 6 points inside the paint. Still, Jankovich thought the team could improve its defense, especially on the perimeter.
“I thought we made some bonehead plays,” SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said. “We have to get better there.”
It was the Mustangs 27th-straight win at Moody Coliseum.
SMU will look for revenge Saturday night against USC. The Trojans beat SMU twice last season, including a 66-65 win in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Jankovich and his players are looking forward to the opportunity to avenge the loss.
“We’re going to have to play an amazing, amazing game,” Jankovich said. “But, you know what? Crazy things happen and Moody’s got a little magic in it.”
Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.