After more than 10 long months, Jarrey Foster is back.
SMU’s senior forward returned with 11 points, including a fast break alley-oop that looked like vintage Foster. His performance helped SMU win 79-65 over Lamar Tuesday night, as the team improved to 4-3 on the season.
“I felt like Jarrey Foster,” he said. “I got a lot better, worked on a lot of things and just put it on the court. That’s it.”
Foster showcased his versatile game, hitting a three-pointer, scoring off of an offensive rebound and a spin move and getting to the free throw line on a post-up.
“He played way better than I expected,” Tim Jankovich said. “I thought he would be way rustier, and a little bit out of rhythm, but man, he played like a veteran and hardly missed a beat.”
SMU led Lamar for a large majority of the game. The Mustangs were up 41-28 at halftime, going into the break on the heels of a Feron Hunt-fueled run. The promising freshman slammed in an alley-oop, scored a layup and slipped a smooth behind the back pass to Isiaha Mike under the rim. Hunt was one of five Mustangs to finish with double-digit scoring totals.
In the second half, it was smooth sailing for the Mustangs. Their lead ballooned to 22 at one point, and was never in single digits.
Overall, SMU played a complete game, perhaps the most complete it’s played all season. When the team needed to score, it got seemingly effortless buckets with open jumpers or shots at the rim. On the other end, it forced 16 turnovers and held the Cardinals to 38.5 percent shooting.
Leading the charge was Jahmal McMurray, who paced SMU with 18 points and recorded a career high nine assists. His previous high in assists at SMU was four.
McMurray’s solid passing outlined a trend for SMU. The Mustangs tallied 23 assists as a team, after posting single digit assist totals in each of their two games in Cancún.
It’s no coincidence that the unselfish play came on the night of Foster’s return.
“I think it has something to do with (Jarrey) coming back,” McMurray said of the gaudy assist total. “That’s how SMU plays basketball and he’s the only guy that’s been here four years and I feel like we just adapted to him when he came back.”
“It’s a trust thing, once you trust the guys around you and you put all of that together, that’s what happens,” Foster added. “We could’ve beaten any team today. Any team.”
The win marked the end of a long road back to the court for Foster. He might have left for the NBA after last season if not for the torn ACL; his roommate and close friend, Shake Milton did. But now Foster is back at Moody Coliseum; he worked as hard as anyone to get there, and fans, teammates and his head coach are glad he is.
“His work ethic is beyond belief,” Jankovich said. “And so when you see a guy do that and you see a sacrifice, an emotional sacrifice, emotional pain and physical pain and all the things, and finally, finally he gets to play, for me it’s emotional.”