Coming into the season, SMU basketball was slated to be a dark horse in the AAC. Unfortunately, the Mustangs stumbled out of the gates. Their first loss was a trainwreck, losing by 23 by the Oregon Ducks. SMU also lost back-to-back games to Missouri and Loyola Marymount. Since falling to 3-3, however, the Mustangs have hit a nice stride. With a 77-69 win over a solid Dayton team Wednesday night, they may just have their season back on track.
The Flyers were anything but another unranked opponent for SMU. This is the same Dayton team that upset the then-No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks. Coming in on a five-game winning streak dating back to November 25th, SMU needed somebody to step up and lead them to a resume-building win. While more than one player stepped up for the Mustangs, there is no doubt that senior guard Kendric Davis led the charge.
SMU Basketball Gets Impressive Win Over Dayton Flyers
Kendric Davis Had the Hot Hand
Kendric Davis struggled shooting to start the season. Even though SMU was able to win three of their first four games, it was clear that he hadn’t found his shooting stroke yet. Over the last few games, Davis has found his form and certainly carried it into SMU’s matchup against Dayton. Davis shot 8-15 from the field and drained three of four triples. He totaled a team-high 19 points and added three rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Davis is “the guy” on this team. Nobody outside of him even averages 12 points per game. Only two other players even average double-digits for the Mustangs. Until more guys start to step up for the SMU basketball team, their success will be strictly tied to Davis. The good thing for SMU is that right now he’s feeling it. The bad news is that, come conference play, SMU will need to have reliable second, third and even fourth options to beat teams like Houston, Cincinnati and Memphis.
Offensive Boards Cause for Concern for SMU
The one main problem that nearly derailed SMU in this game was the rebound battle. More specifically, the offensive glass. While Dayton only out-rebounded SMU by two, the Flyers grabbed five more offensive boards than the Mustangs. While much of that can be attributed to SMU shooting an absurd 51% from the field and 57% from deep, you’d still expect more from a team with multiple players over 6’8″.
Dayton is a tall team, but any coach will tell you that the major keys to rebounding include boxing out and effort. In close games, the impact of second and even third chances for teams goes without mentioning. The team that gets more chances will be more likely to score consistently and win the game. SMU won’t always have hot shooting nights and be able to simply outplay teams. When they are matched up against teams that have more talent like Houston or Memphis, they’ll need to have all the chances they can get.
If they don’t improve on their rebounding offensively, it’ll be tough for them to consistently win those games.