No. 25 Houston defeats SMU 69-56 on senior night
Senior night did not go as planned for Ben Emelogu and the SMU Mustangs. On the night that SMU honored Emelogu and Akoy Agau, the Mustangs lost 69-56 to No. 25 Houston.
Emelogu finished his final game in University Park with 14 points, and was serenaded with an ovation as he checked out.
Jahmal McMurray led the Mustangs in points with 17, but SMU’s offense was stagnant for most of the game, as the team recorded a total of seven assists.
“We struggled on offense all game,” Emelogu said. “”I think that’s what kept us from winning the game.”
Houston led SMU 36-24 at halftime. Gray dominated the half, finishing with 13 points and six assists. Armoni Brooks, who scored 23 points in Houston’s last matchup with SMU, had 12 points at the break. The Cougars ran away with it after halftime, as SMU never cut their lead inside 10 points.
Rob Gray had the ball on a string throughout the night, finishing with 19 points and nine assists. Houston’s star guard was constantly probing and moving, and got shots up as soon as he found a crease in SMU’s defense.
Emelogu departs Moody Coliseum with two conference championships, two conference tournament victories and 119 games played in red and blue under his belt. He transferred from Virginia Tech to SMU after his freshman year, and leaves SMU as a valuable part of two NCAA Tournament teams.
The Grand Prairie native was brought to tears as he was honored before the game.
“I was overwhelmed,” he said of the pre-game applause. “I’ve been telling myself all week I wouldn’t cry, I wouldn’t get emotional, but when that time came… it was just joy, overwhelming joy that brought me to tears.”
Agau recorded six points and five rebounds on his senior night. He was honored before the game, although he may come back next season. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility before the season, but may not come back to use it. Tim Jankovich said Tuesday that the team and Agau will decide if he will return for the 2018-19 campaign after this season concludes.
Moody Coliseum showed its appreciation for its seniors. While the arena has not been as ear-splitting as years past during SMU’s struggles this season, Tim Jankovich recognizes the fan support and is appreciate of it.
“I’m so thankful for our fans,” he said. “We still have a lot of people coming, knowing that we’re not playing nearly like we played a while back. For them to just continue to support us means more than I can possibly tell you.”
Jankovich and the players will not get a chance to hear those fans again until next season, SMU will close out its regular season Sunday in South Florida before playing in the AAC Tournament in Orlando.