8-1 SMU faces tough competition over break
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 18:12
The Mustangs (8-1) are off to their best start since the 2006 to 2007 season at 9-1. Unfortunately fans will have to wait until Dec. 15 to see SMU on the court again, because the team is taking two weeks off for final exams.
Recent Conference USA Player of the Week Jalen Jones will return with the team. Jones averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1.5 assists last week in two games.
Jones posted double-doubles in both games and had a career-high 16 board in his 20-point performance in a win over Utah last Wednesday.
The game made Jones the first Mustang since Papa Dia in 2011 to have more than 15 points and rebounds in a game.
Jones is averaging 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the season, and is SMU's No.2 scorer and top rebounder.
The player of the week honor is the first such award of Jones’ career and the first time a Mustang has won it since Dia in 2010.
However, Jones hasn’t been the only reason for the Mustangs’s success — Nick Russell has a lot to do with it as well.
Averaging 15.1 points a game with four boards and 4.67 assists at the point, Russell has ran the offense effectively in coach Larry Brown’s scheme.
Jones, Russell and the rest of the Mustangs will see if they can continue their winning ways on the road when the team faces unbeaten Rhode Island (6-0), a gritty Utah team (5-2), struggling Alcorn State (1-4) and conference rival Houston (5-2) over the winter break.
With the exception of Alcorn State, all the road games are going to be tough.
Rhode Island is led by three guards—Tahrike Carter, Nyheem Sanders and Tom DeCiantis, who are all averaging double digits in scoring and can shoot the three ball. SMU will have to have solid perimeter defense to pressure the players off their spots and force them to make tough shots.
While Utah has a winning record all its games have been close with the exception of its season opener against USC, which the team won 104-47. After the blowout, all the games have been relatively close with each game being decided by an average of nine points. Utah is a tough but beatable team. SMU handed Utah one of its losses on Nov. 28 at 62-55.
Houston has been an offensive force averaging 81 points a game and 42.3 rebounds a game.
Despite the Cougars’ success early in the season the team has lost its last two games and will have a tough six games before facing the Mustangs.
At home, SMU will face the 2-4 Wagner Seahawks, 2-5 Furman, 8-0 Wyoming, 4-3 Tulsa, 6-2 Tulane and 6-1 Southern Miss.
The Mustangs will have two easy games against Wagner and Furman before facing undefeated Wyoming — a team coming off an upset win over Colorado on Dec. 1. Wyoming standout Leonard Washington leads the team with 15.1 points per game with 8.5 rebounds from the forward position. He also averages 2.5 assists a game. SMU will have to contain him if it hopes to topple this Mountain West powerhouse.
SMU also cant look past Tulsa simply because the Golden Hurricane is barely above .500.
Tulsa is averaging 73.1 points with 38 boards a game, ranking 89th and 90th respectively. SMU is averaging 70.2 points (No. 144 overall) and 36.1 boards (No. 146 overall).
Tulane and Southern Miss have similar statistics. Both are well balanced and keep games close. SMU will have to grind it out with Tulane and try to edge out the conference rival. The combined record for SMU’s opponents over winter break is 45-21. SMU will also begin conference play on Jan. 6 in Moody Coliseum against Tulsa.
The Mustangs will have to win some tough ones on the road and then take care of business at home to have a successful December and January.