PirateIllustrated - SMU Clobbers ECU 86-61 in Dallas
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SMU Clobbers ECU 86-61 in Dallas

ECU traveled to SMU where it was tough sledding for the Pirates who came up short to fall to 8-12 on the season.
ECU traveled to SMU where it was tough sledding for the Pirates who came up short to fall to 8-12 on the season. (PirateIllustrated.com photo)

SMU improved their home record at Moody Coliseum to 38-1 under Coach Tim Jankovich as the Mustangs cruised past short-handed East Carolina 86-61 Sunday afternoon in Dallas for their fifteenth win of the season.

The Pirates hit just 43 percent from the floor and were led by Isaac Fleming who had a pretty good outing with 17 points despite committing seven turnovers to go along with 14 points from Shawn Williams. Justin Whatley came in off the bench to score eight points. But ECU got just three points in the transition game which ultimately spelled disaster Sunday afternoon.

The Pirates played without the services of center Jabari Craig who will be out with a foot injury for the next three weeks and Kentrell Barkley took a shot to the head in the first half and never returned after being diagnosed with concussion symptoms. B.J. Tyson remained cold on the road where he went just 3 for 12 from the floor including just 1 for 7 from three-point land to end up with just seven points despite delivering seven assists.

Placing five players in double-figures on 62 percent shooting including 55 percent from the arc and 38 points in the paint, SMU(15-7/5-4(AAC) was led by Jahmal McMurray and Jimmy Whitt who both tossed in 20 points to go along with 16 from Ethan Chargois, 13 from Ben Emelogu and 11 points and five assists from veteran guard Shake Milton.

“Outside of the UConn game this is how they’ve been shooting the basketball. When I watched the UConn game, I was shaking my head like oh, no,” interim ECU head coach Michael Perry said, “They were shooting the ball inaccurately, taking some tough shots and even the wide open ones were not falling and I thought you cannot shoot the ball that bad in back to back games, so I anticipated them shooting the ball well here at home and they’re good at home.”

SMU’s Shake Milton talked about what it means to his team when his teammates are connecting from three-point range.

“It means the world to this team. Everybody on this team does a good job of encouraging one another to be aggressive and look for their shots,” Melton said, “Especially when it’s falling for Jimmy, Jamal and Goo, we’ve just got to keep feeding them the ball and playing team basketball.”

After falling behind by as much as seven points in the first four minutes of the game, Dimitri Spasojevic’s dunk and three-point jumpers from Shawn Williams and Kentrell Barkley kept the Pirates close in a 16-14 contest.

Eight early points from Ethan Chargois and a turn around fallaway jumper in the lane along with two free throws from Shake Milton allowed SMU to maintain a 23-18 working margin at the twelve minute mark of the first half.

While Shawn Williams and Isaac Fleming were able to connect from three-point range for ECU, Emelogu, McMurray and Jimmy Whitt did the same to give the Mustangs a 37-26 cushion. ECU kept the game close capitalizing on a brief SMU shooting drought and then scoring points on drives from Aaron Jackson and Shawn Williams and a subsequent three-point bomb from Williams to get the Pirates back within four.

But a pair of ECU(8-12/2-7(AAC) charging foul calls helped fuel a late first half SMU rally to give the Mustangs an eleven point 44-33 lead on Emelogou’s game leading 13th point on a corner trey as time expired before halftime.

Milton, McMurray and Whitt scored early in the second half while ECU committed four turnovers, fell asleep a bit offensively and couldn’t seem to hit the ocean. SMU’s lead quickly grew to 57-38. The Mustang lead then mounted to 75-46 on a pair of Shake Milton buckets with under eight minutes to play.

The Mustangs coasted in the rest of the way against the Pirates who were pretty much lifeless on both ends of the floor in the second half in an 83-55 contest in the final two minutes of play.

ECU will reload against Tulane Wednesday night in Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is at 6:30.

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