Moody Magic: SMU over No. 14 USC 72-55, 28th home win in row
DALLAS (AP) — Tim Jankovich never wanted to watch the film of SMU’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss last March. The only reason he did this week was because the Mustangs were getting ready to play Southern California again.
Jankovich will enjoy watching the rematch.
The Mustangs got some measure of revenge with a 72-55 victory over No. 14 USC on Saturday night after charging ahead with a big run after halftime.
“Yeah it was a big game. Definitely,” Jankovich said. “It they were all this fun, I’d want to coach forever. ... Really, really, really proud of our guys. I thought it was just an incredible effort.”
Shake Milton scored 22 points and Ben Emelogu had 11 of his 16 points in the go-ahead run for the Mustangs (7-2), who stretched their home winning streak to 28 in a row. Jimmy Whitt had 14 points and Jarrey Foster 13.
It was the third meeting in 13 months between the teams. The Trojans (4-2) won both games last year, including a home game in November 2016 and then again in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last March to end SMU’s 30-win season.
“It definitely meant a lot,” Milton said of the win over the Trojans. “We knew they were coming into Moody, and we weren’t going to lose this game no matter what.”
Chimezie Metu had 13 points to lead USC, which had won its last seven nonconference road games.
The Mustangs are 31-0 at home under Jankovich, the last 24 wins since he took over as head coach at the start of last season. The previous seven were filling in at various times as former coach Larry Brown’s top assistant.
SMU was down 37-33 before Emelogu hit a 3-pointer that ignited a 23-5 run. The Mustangs went ahead to stay after Milton’s two free throws with 15:31 left made it 38-37. Emelogu had three 3s and a dunk in that stretch that pushed them ahead 56-42.
Things were going so well for SMU during that nearly 10-minute streak that with the students counting down the shot clock at one point, Milton slung a shot toward the rim right before the buzzer sounded. The ball went in for a 3-pointer that made it 50-40.
“I knew it was going in,” Foster said.
“I have confidence in every shot that I’m taking. We work on stuff like that, awkward shots, in the mornings,” Milton said. “I didn’t think anything of it, just get back on defense. I think every time I shoot it’s going in.”
USC: A tough week for the Trojans, who were 4-0 before losing consecutive games to teams from the Lone Star State. USC was coming off a 75-59 home loss last Sunday to Texas A&M, which took over that game with a 19-3 run in the second half. USC again struggled with shooting, especially after halftime when making only 8 of 22 shots against SMU.
“We had trouble making shots again in the second half,” coach Andy Enfield said.
SMU: The high-energy Mustangs thrive in Moody Coliseum, where one of the regular attendees is former President George W. Bush, who was sitting courtside again Saturday night. SMU is 46-7 under Jankovich.
BIGGER THAN NO. 2
Arizona was the No. 2 team in the country when SMU beat the Wildcats in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day. For the Mustangs, especially returning players Milton, Foster and Emelogu, this win was bigger.
“Just off of what happened last year, they ended our season. We had a great team,” Foster said. “I feel like, personally, this was a big game for us.”
Only Cincinnati has a longer home winning streak than SMU at 30 in a row. In their streak, the Mustangs have won 24 of the 28 games by at least 10 points.
USC will be in Staples Center next Friday night to play Oklahoma.
SMU goes to the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to play No. 23 TCU on Tuesday night.