The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Feron Hunt’s Breakout Night Keeps Postseason Hopes Afloat, Barely

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Kendric Davis recorded 19 points against UConn on Wednesday night. Photo credit: Julia Depasquale

Feron Hunt calmed the crowd after hitting the final four free throws that sealed a much needed 79-75 victory over Connecticut. Playing it off like just another night, however, might have been a little showmanship in front of a crowd tense from fearing another second half collapse.

Tim Jankovich himself, normally a stoic toter of the standard line, even deviated from the script in the postgame press conference to note Wednesday night’s game was eerily similar to Saturday. On the heels of a Temple loss, a game in which SMU saw its 17-point lead evaporate in the span of 12 minutes, UConn adopted nearly identical game flow. On this evening, SMU built a 15-point advantage with 11:34 to play only to see the visitors have a chance to take the lead on the final three-point shot of the night.

“It was really, almost, the same game we played in the other day. We get a big lead, and we are playing great and everything is going great. Then, the game spins a bit and we start making some live ball turnovers,” Jankovich said. “Now all of a sudden the tide has turned.”

Repeated runs by the Huskies, charged by true freshman James Bouknight, who put up 21 points in a losing effort, had UConn within one possession on four separate trips down the floor in the final two minutes. An Alterique Gilbert falling away three and a Bouknight steal encapsulated the guard driven engine that continually kept SMU from closing the door.

Unlike reruns of last week, however, the Mustangs altered what looked to be an inevitable end on this occasion through consistent second half offense. Hunt, who had a season-high 23 points off the bench, delivered six key points to quell UConn’s threats down the stretch. Emmanuel Bandoumel hit a pair of triples himself at different points in the run and 8-8 free throw shooting in the second half halted any chance of UConn actually grabbing back the lead.

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Emmanuel Bandoumel recorded 13 points on Wednesday night. Photo credit: Julia Depasquale

“This time we fought it off. We had some tremendous poise, confidence in free throws lately…. Feron hit the front end of the one-and-one and if he misses it we lose. Obviously he played tremendously. Emmanuel played tremendously and not just points wise,” Jankovich said.

Hunt’s game was a welcome sight for SMU faithful, breaking out of the three-week long slump since the sophomore lost his starting role. A centerpiece of SMU’s offense, that overall shot 55% from the field and 53% from deep, Hunt seemed to return to his former self with the ball going through the basket.

“In the first 16 games I knew I was going to play 30 plus minutes. Now, I don’t know how many minutes I am going to get. So I have to maximize time to stay out there on the court. So just learning how to do that and getting better with it,” Hunt said of ‘accepting’ his new role.

8-9 from the field, 5-6 from the line, and even a perfect 2-2 from three, the normally stat stuffing ways of the Desoto native in no small part could have salvaged the remainder of SMU’s season. That was also a fact that Jankovich did not shy away from, understanding the quadrant two win could have easily been SMU’s most important of the season to date.

“The other day we talked about no big games. They are all the same, but that was a big win. It wasn’t a big game before but it was after, how about that?” Jankovich said with underlying truth.

With Houston coming up, the final chance at a quadrant one win on the schedule, that will be a theme this week for SMU.

SMU will host No. 20 Houston on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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