Home Sweet Home: No. 14 Mustangs crowned AAC champions, thrash Memphis 103-62

Before this season began, SMU was a question mark on the minds of many.

Coming off a postseason ban and having lost their three top scorers from the year before, many expected these Mustangs to take a step back. When the season tipped off on Nov. 11, SMU remained somewhat of an afterthought, even to those in Dallas.

Nobody knew if seniors Ben Moore and Sterling Brown could replace the leadership of Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy. Nobody knew if Tim Jankovich could fill the shoes of the legendary Larry Brown.

Nobody knew, except the players.

Ben Moore was asked before the season if his team had the potential to surprise people.

“For sure,” he responded. “We’re going to surprise them.”

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SMU players and coaches pose with the championship trophy. (Photo credit: SMU Athletics)


When confetti fell from the rafters of Moody Coliseum five months later, all of the questions asked before the season were answered.

The 14th ranked Mustangs had captured the American Athletic Conference regular season championship and the 1 seed in the conference tournament. Tim Jankovich, coaching a rotation of only seven scholarship players, looked like a genius. Ben Moore and Sterling Brown led SMU to a 41 point win in the season’s final game.

Doubters officially surprised.

They are now asking a new question: How far can these Mustangs go?

That answer might be found in history. SMU’s win over Memphis on Saturday capped off a perfect season at home. The Mustangs’ last undefeated home record came in 1956, the same year SMU reached the Final Four.

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Ben Moore cuts down the net after SMU won its second AAC regular season title in three seasons. (Photo credit: SMU Athletics)


All of the Mustangs’ five regular starters scored in double figures with nine players scoring on the night. Brown led SMU with 26 points and 10 rebounds, a double-double in his final game at Moody. Moore finished with 16 points and Semi Ojeleye added 19 in the Mustangs’ 103-62 win over Memphis on Saturday.

“Not everybody gets to go out on a win like that,” senior guard Jonathan Wilfong said in the postgame press conference. “To end our Moody career with a regular season conference championship is a special way to go out.”

Wilfong, who learned he would be starting against his hometown conference rival earlier this week, finished the night with a season-high four points and three assists.

“It was nice to hear the roar,” Wilfong said. “Everybody’s yelling at me to shoot, so it’s always nice to get that bucket and let them cheer.”

Moore echoed his statement from before the season, saying this team always knew it could do special things.

“I think we might have surprised a few people,” Moore said postgame. “But not ourselves. I don’t think we’re going to surprise any more people now, but hopefully we do.”

SMU has won 23 of its last 24 games. The team nobody was talking about in November has become a major topic of discussion in the past three weeks. If the Mustangs do make a serious postseason run, the only surprised people left will be the ones that did not pay attention. SMU’s current senior class has built their college careers on proving people wrong.

“We’ve got three more championships to get,” Brown said during the postgame celebration.

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SMU players mob head coach Tim Jankovich following the Mustangs’ 103-62 win over Memphis on Saturday, March 4, 2017. (Photo credit: SMU Athletics)


The person lost in Saturday’s fanfare might be head coach Tim Jankovich, who was named a semifinalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year award earlier this week. Jankovich has quietly led the Mustangs back into the AP Top 25 rankings with quite possibly the best team since the program’s resurgence.

“For me, I just wanted the seniors to feel exactly like they feel right now,” Jankovich said postgame. “It could not have been scripted better. I’m so happy for everybody.”

Jankovich said this SMU team is among the most special he has coached in his many years.

“This is a unique group, Jankovich said. “Everything you would hope when you become a coach, you would hope that you would have guys like this.”

Show up, defy expectations, win, repeat. That has been the theme for SMU during the past three seasons. Some might think the Mustangs have peaked, but Moore thinks more surprises are in store.

“I don’t think we are peaking,” Moore said. “I think a championship would be the peak, so that’s what we’re waiting on.”

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