SMU Mustangs Athletics Timothy O'Farrell Recovery

Timothy O’Farrell Recovery

By: Richard W. Humphrey

SMU Athletics Contributor

On behalf of Timothy O’Farrell Recovery

There is no question that this past weekend was one of the best for SMU athletics in ages.  The football team bounced back from their worst performance of the year to beat East Carolina 55-31, the men’s basketball team opened the season with a pair of wins before sellout crowds at Moody Coliseum, and Travis Mays won his first game as head coach of the SMU women’s basketball team.

In Greenville, North Carolina, the football team got top performances on both sides of the ball.  The defense plastered 21 points on the scoreboard with three interceptions that were run back for touchdowns, while the offense put almost 500 total yards in the books.

Defensive back Horace Richardson grabbed two of the interceptions and ran them 70 and 80 yards for the scores.  Surprise!  He was named as the American Conference Defensive Player of the Week.  All-American candidate Courtland Sutton had his best receiving day of the year, snaring 12 passes for 169 yards.  He was one of only five players named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll

The win keeps the Mustangs bowl hopes alive.  Their record is now 5-5.  There are two tough opponents remaining on the schedule – South Florida and Navy.  Both received votes in the polls this week, and both will be favored on the betting line.  The good news is that both games are at home.  One win will gain bowl eligibility.

The Women’s basketball team beat Texas State on Friday 64-56.  Alicia Froling and Dai’ja Thomas posted double-doubles.  Froling scored 15 points and pulled down 15 boards.  She was named to the Conference Weekly Honor Roll for her performance.  Thomas came off the bench to score 11 points and grab 10 rebounds to complete her double-double

The Men’s basketball team put together two routs in the season opening games.  They won by 28 on Friday night, beating Gardner-Webb 72-44.  On Sunday, they won again smashing Eastern Michigan 91-64.  That’s plus 55 in scoring margin.

Actually, those scores are deceiving to some extent.  On Friday night, the Ponies looked nervous and tight at the start, and bumbled through a first half that saw the Bulldogs actually take a 28-27 lead to the halftime dressing room.

The Mustangs quickly took over the game in the second half.  Semi Ojeleye, making his SMU debut after transferring from Duke, led all scorers with 26 points and put up a double-double by adding 14 rebounds.  Shake Milton and Sterling Brown also tallied in double digits.

On Sunday, the Mustangs never trailed.  They broke a 6-6 tie about three minutes into the game and led the rest of the way.  The lead was 14 at halftime, and the Mustangs opened the second half with a run that pushed the lead into the 20′s.  They led by at least 20 points the rest of the game.

All eleven players dressed for the game saw action.  All nine scholarship players scored and recorded an assist.  The starting five all tallied in double digits with Ojeleye again leading the way with 18.  Jarrey Foster also tossed in 18 to tie Ojeleye as the high Mustang scorer.

On Monday, Ojeleye’s 44 points and 22 rebounds earned the Conference Player of the Week Award.

It’s easy to assume that the games were blowouts over lesser opponents.  Not so fast on Eastern Michigan.  The Eagles took Pittsburgh into double overtime Friday night before losing 93-90.  They have a spectacular guard Ray Lee that scored 26 points Sunday.  An unusually large number of NBA scouts were in the building to watch Lee.

Finally, Eastern Michigan runs the famous Syracuse zone defense.  They run it well, and it presents challenges.  Tim Jankovich said that he had worried about this game for weeks, and that he spent an “inordenent amount of time” preparing the team to deal with the zone.

Last Wednesday was also the opening of the early signing season for high school recruits.  The Women’s team signed two 5′-6″ guards.  Morgan Smith from Highland Park High School in Dallas became Coach Mays’ first signee.  She is a four year letter award winner for the Scots that has averaged 13 points and six assists per game in her high school career so far.

Ariana Whitfield from Cypress Ranch High School in the Houston area is the other signee.  She too is a four year letter award winner.  She averaged 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season in leading her team to the UIL state championship tournament for the third straight year.

The Men’s team was quite pleased with their four signees.  The current roster already has sophomore Shake Milton and freshman Deshawn McDowell from Tulsa, and last Wednesday they added two more from the greater Tulsa area.  True point guard Elijah Landrum (6′-0″) is rated as high as the second best player in Oklahoma this year.  Ethan Chargois is a 6′-7″ forward that is rated as high as the fourth best player in Oklahoma.

William Douglas and Everett Ray are the other two signees.  Douglas is a 6′-4″ guard from Memphis that is ranked as high as the second best high school senior in Tennessee this year.  Ray is a 6′-7″ forward from Dallas.

All three teams face challenges this week.  The Women’s basketball team plays at Kansas Wednesday at 7:00 PM and at TCU next Sunday at 2:00 PM.

The Men’s basketball team plays in Madison Square Garden in the finals of the 2K Classic.  They face Pittsburgh on Thursday night at 6:00 PM (Central) in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.  Marquette and Michigan square off in Thursday’s other semi-final game.  On Friday, the two winners play for the championship, and the losers play for third place.

Ken Pomeroy publishes a mathematical rating of basketball teams.  After this weekend’s games, SMU is ranked 32nd in the nation, Marquette is ranked 33rd and Michigan is ranked 34th.

The football team plays South Florida at Ford Stadium Saturday.  Game time is set for 6:00 PM Central.  South Florida is a 13 point favorite on the Wynne Las Vegas betting line, and the game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.