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

Mustangs Win at Home Against Tulane

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Brian Richardson
Guard Zhuric Phelps (1) shoots a layup to increase the Mustang’s lead

The Mustangs fought neck-and-neck against Tulane to defeat the Green Wave on Thursday, gaining their first win after two away game losses.

Senior guard Ricardo Wright and Senior forward Tyreek Smith led SMU (14-7 overall, 5-3 conference) with 16 points each. Samuell Williamson had a double-double, with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Forward Kevin Cross led Tulane (12-9, 3-6) with 27 points on the night, along with seven rebounds. Guard Sion James finished with 20 points for the Green Wave.

The crowd reacts to a Mustang’s score (Brian Richardson)

The 5,284 people in attendance were electric, cheering loudly with every dunk and 3-point shot. The loudest of the crowd was in the student section. It was Greek Night, and the fraternity brothers and sorority sisters came out to cheer on the Mustangs in droves.

The Mustangs two-game skid was a first this season. The second loss was to Wichita State (9-12, 1-7) for the Shockers’ first conference win this season. SMU’s goal Thursday night was to return to their defensive identity.

“We were definitely disappointed in that loss (versus Wichita State),” said Wright in the press conference. “Just wanted to come out and just try to get back to ourselves, our defensive principles. Lock in on that end and let offense take care of itself.”

“We felt like this was a must-win game and we had to win it by any means,” Smith said.

Coach Lanier diagnosed the issue as a lack of passion in his players. Lanier said it was “a good indicator for us” to come together and win after the streak.

“It was a hard-fought one,” SMU Head Coach Rob Lanier said at the post-game press conference. “And it’s the first time we’ve ever finished a game under five points. That’s a good experience for this group.”

SMU dominated the boards Thursday night, with 52 rebounds against Tulane’s 33. Mustangs Williamson and Keon Ambrose-Hylton led the team in rebounds. Ambrose-Hylton added 11 rebounds off the bench and Smith finished with 7.

Guard Ricardo Wright (5) passes the ball to guard Zhuric Phelps (1) (Brian Richardson)

“[Rebounding] was a big key to the game,” SMU Head Coach Rob Lanier said. “Because (Tulane) is such a good offensive team, we’re playing hard, but Cross just creates so many problems… and we needed to compensate in some other areas. And rebounding was one of those things that we’re able to do.”

The Mustangs also had a significant advantage against Tulane with 19 offensive rebounds. This allowed SMU a lot of second-chance opportunities offensively.

“We got [Smith], that can rebound, Keon [Ambrose-Hylton] and Sam [Williamson]…guys that were going to the rim,” Wright said. “That’s a skill that we have. Coach always wanted us to utilize that to an advantage against other teams.”

This matchup against Tulane marked the first start this season for Tyreek Smith. But this start was well-achieved by the fifth-year senior.

“I feel like [Smith] earned it; the way he’s practiced, the way he’s played,” said Lanier. “He got a career-high today, and rebounded the ball well and had a presence.”

Smith walked into the press conference composed and reserved rather than overflowing with emotion after a strong matchup. This game was all business for him.

“Whether I start or not, I’m gonna play the same.’ said the senior. “And I’m gonna encourage my teammates to make the best plays possible.”

Ricardo Wright also played a big role off the bench in this game. He averages 5.5 points this season in 12.8 minutes, usually during uneventful parts of the game. On Thursday he set career-highs in points and minutes.

“For him to be there in the game down the stretch says a lot about his growth as the season has gone along,” said Coach Lanier.

“They got a lot of trust in me to make shots, so when I’m open they find me,” the guard said. “It’s just the same stuff we do in practice, same shots that I’m making in the game. So it’s just repetition.”

SMU plays again on Sunday at 5 p.m. against UAB in Moody Coliseum.

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