Playing a schedule that didn’t afford many opportunities for meaningful non-conference wins, SMU got an important one in Georgetown Saturday afternoon, beating the Hoyas 81-73 in Washington D.C.
SMU was coming off of a home loss to TCU is which its offense stagnated late in the game. Saturday, it looked completely different. The players made well-designed and well-timed cuts, and passes were there to meet them when they broke free. The Mustangs exceeded their previous total by 22 points.
SMU started somewhat slowly on offense, but Nat Dixon broke the team out of its funk in the first half, making three 3-pointers. The looks came on well-executed sets, as Dixon got kickout passes from Ethan Chargois and Jimmy Whitt for open looks. SMU’s leading scorer on the season, Jahmal McMurray, went scoreless for the game’s first 18 minutes; but he gave the team six huge points before halftime with a 3-pointer and three free throws.
McMurray led SMU in points with 19, but it seemed to come much more in the flow of the offense than in previous games. He was getting jumpshots off the pass, instead of having to take contested looks at the end of the shot clock.
The Hoyas did not go away throughout the contest, cutting SMU’s lead to two twice in the second half. But every time Georgetown got close, SMU had an answer. The Mustangs ripped off quick 5-0 runs to give themselves breathing room both times their lead was put in jeopardy.
Georgetown is a team that has produced countless great big men historically, and Patrick Ewing has another good one in Jessie Govan this season. The 255-pound brute is averaging 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds on the season, and figured to be a problem for a thin SMU frontcourt.
Chargois went toe-to-toe with Govan all afternoon, holding him below his season average in points and boards. Govan got the best of Chargois a few times, but he was able to limit his impact on the game overall. Chargois had 17 points on the other end, but was sloppy with the ball, turning it over five times.
Isiaha Mike played perhaps the most complete game of any SMU player, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Most impressively, he got to the free throw line a whopping 13 times, which is a huge positive sign for a player that hasn’t been aggressive at times during the season.
While the win is a step in the right direction for SMU, the Mustangs still have holes. They committed 20 fouls, and bailed Georgetown out at times when the Hoyas had trouble making shots. SMU has talent on the defensive end and needs to buckle down there in the future.
After the loss to TCU, SMU needed this win as a building block going into conference play and the team got it. There are plenty of areas to improve on, but this was the most impressive offensive performance of the season, and the team showed it can beat a quality opponent on the road.