‘We’re starting to find our Identity’: SMU completes trio of wins with defeat of Dayton

Five games, five wins. It’s all adding up now for this SMU team. For a team whose efficiency was a very worrisome issue coming into the season, this SMU team has scored the basketball well. For a team with eight newcomers on the lineup, this SMU team has gelled pretty well. For a team who entered a new era without one of its best players in years, this SMU has coped incredibly well. All of this in due time too, as the American Athletic Conference kicks off for this team in two games time.

SMU Head Coach Tim Jankovich remarked on the consecutive wins, saying “One could say that every single game we play is a must-win, but no game is a must-win. It depends on how you look at it. As a coach, I’m a competitor, so I have to see every single game from the angle where we have to win the game.”

In a game played with much grit and tenacity through both halves, it was clear both sides really wanted this win. But SMU was always the better team. Shooting above 50%, both from the field and from the three-point line all game, there was little question who would come out on top, and it was only a matter of time before SMU pulled away from Dayton on the scoreboard.

Despite Dayton’s early push in the opening minutes, SMU managed to pull away before the halftime break, leading by as much as 8 points going into the interval on a (36-28) scoreline. Dayton’s resilience would not wane in the second half, and although they managed to keep up with the efficient SMU scoring, both teams were equal on second half points, and SMU ran away with the win 77-69.

Four SMU players scored double digit points tonight – Kendric Davis, Zurich Phelps, Zach Nutall, and Michael Weathers. Kendric Davis topped all scorers, finishing with 19 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Zach Nutall scored 11 points, and Michael Weathers 10. Tonight was a milestone night for Freshman guard Zhuric Phelps, who finished second amongst SMU scorers, and scored 13 points in 16 minutes, grabbing 2 rebounds during that time.

“I think today I just found myself, and where I fit into this team……..I think learning from him [Kendric Davis] this year, that’s where my ups and downs have come from. I’ve had a few bad games and a few good games – this is a learning curve for me”, Zurich Phelps said at the press conference after the game.

After this win, and the outstanding 66-64 away win last season, SMU are now 4-1 in the series against Dayton. Last year, a memorable Emmanuel Bandomuel’s floater with 0.2 seconds left on the clock was the difference between the two teams as the Mustangs earned a 66-64 road victory and ended Dayton’s 20-game win streak in a game where SMU spent more than half the time trailing and never led by more than three points.

The SMU Moody crowd has made a name for itself at this stage of the season, and we’ve seen the rousing support from SMU’s supporters drive their team forward towards wins. This is not a place teams would want to come to play, knowing they face a loud, intense, and hostile crowd that fully backs their team against any opponent.

Another game played, and still SMU retains its perfect record at home, and are still yet to lose a game at the Moody Coliseum. This win takes its home record to 8-0, and overall record to 8-3 this season before the conference begins.

With this sort of form, SMU would be confident going into any game to face any opponent. For the last two non-conference games of the season, SMU goes to Albuquerque, New Mexico to face the New Mexico Lobos Basketball Team on December 19th and then come back to Dallas to face the Evansville Purple Aces on December 21st. SMU’s first AAC game comes up on December 29th, against the Tulsa Hurricanes in Oklahoma.