Tim Jankovich addresses media after his SMU team advanced to 2K Classic championship game with win over Pittsburgh. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
NEW YORK - SMU defeated Pitt 76-67 in the opener of the 2K Classic semifinal doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
The Mustangs improved to 3-0, while Pitt dropped their first game of the season and stands at 2-1. The game, as Pitt coach Kevin Stallings noted, was one of runs. Good fortune, it turns out, to get a four-minute breakdown.
I took a close look at this one using four-minute charting from a Pitt defensive perspective, and studied the SMU offensive possessions. At the 16-minute mark, SMU had a 9-5 lead. The Mustangs had six possessions and four offensive scores. An offensive rebound extended one possession, resulting in a score. The SMU efficiency was 1.50. The numbers were impressive, but Pitt’s failure to exert pressure on perimeter shooters had a lot to do with it.
The Panthers started to defend better while finding the range on offense. Pitt’s Cameron Johnson buried three treys as Stallings’ club took a lead. They quickly lost it, trailing 31-24 with four minutes to go. The last four minutes of the half saw SMU finish with six possessions. All came up empty. Pitt was able to get five stops (missed shot and rebound) while forcing one turnover. The Panthers found the range again, but the 33-31 halftime lead they enjoyed was predicated on stifling defense.
The four minutes to begin the final half morphed into the Semi Ojeleye show. The 6-foot-7 redshirt junior scored eight of SMU’s 11 points. The Mustangs had seven possessions, five of which; to Pitt’s dismay, went into the books as scoring. SMU won those four minutes 11-6, taking a 42-39 lead into the first media timeout. The efficiency for coach Tim Jankovich’s group was a sterling 1.57. That four-minute run to begin the final stanza proved significant. They built a lead they never relinquished.
The last four minutes of the game saw SMU score nine points on their eight possessions (113 efficiency). Down three possessions, Pitt was in a fouling mode, accounting for SMU’s final points the last minute. Prior to that time, the Panthers were unable to stop SMU in those game-deciding minutes.
Possessions: SMU 62, Pitt 67
Offensive efficiency: SMU 123, Pitt 100
eFG%: SMU 52, Pitt 50
Free Throw Rate: SMU 21, Pitt 42
Offensive Rebound%: SMU 40, Pitt 28
Turnover Rate: SMU 11, Pitt 19
Leading scorers and EF:
SMU: Semi Ojeleye 24 points, EF 31
Pitt: Michael Young 22 points, EF 29
What SMU did well: Build on the momentum of the beginning of the final half. As noted, SMU won the first four minutes after intermission. The Mustangs built and never looked back. Rebounding was also noteworthy, as SMU’s 40 percent offensive rebound percentage was courtesy of 14 offensive boards.
What Pitt did well: Get to the line. Young shot 10-of-12 and the whole SMU team attempted just 13 free throws. Pitt attempted 37 percent of their field goals from beyond the arc. To their credit, they; especially Young, were still able to get in a position to draw fouls.
“Game of runs overall. Their ability to get second opportunities was a real key to the game. Defensively, we had trouble keeping them in front of us. On offense we were just dribbling. That’s not who we are. They packed it in and we had one dribbler and four watching. That is not who we are. Their defense was packed in, they took some chances with some guys, (good looks) but we didn’t take advantage of it. Again, too much standing and watching, not enough movement and cohesiveness.” - Pitt coach Kevin Stallings
“Kevin and I have been tremendous friends for many years, we spent a lot of time together. He’s a great coach with a natural feel for the game. He’s a great coach and we knew this would be a challenge. Over the years, he’s probably run ten different offenses. We understood he would try to exploit some of the things we do. That is something we prepared for. You play his teams, your defense better be very solid. We did a good job overall, even though we got a little tired defensively late. I really enjoy this team for a lot of reasons. I really trust their commitment, work ethic and chemistry, They are high level in all these areas. I think this is a team that will find different ways to win. Tonight, we did it by outrebounding and out ‘turnovering’ them.” - SMU coach Tim Jankovich