SMU was able to control the second half over Pitt on their way to a 76-67 win in the 2K Classic Opener. Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye was virtually unstoppable for the Mustangs, scoring 24 points for the second time in three games this season and sinking a career-high nine field goals, two from deep.
Coach Tim Jankovich said about Ojeleye, “Semi is one of the most outstanding player you can ever be around in your entire life and on top of that he is arguably the hardest worker away from practice time. I’ve been around a lot of hardworking guys, but you set your clock around this guy.”
SMU withstood a quick Pitt start, in which Panthers guard Cameron Johnson knocked down three quick triples. The Mustangs took the reigns during the middle of the first half, using a 16-0 run to take their largest lead of the game with six minutes left in the half.
But Pitt answered that with a 13-0 run of their own to end the half, leading 33-31 at the break. It seemed like we’d have a good game in one of the nation’s best early season tournaments.
But SMU used another big run early in the second half, this time 11-2, and really never looked back. Shake Milton did a great job picking apart Pitt’s defense, most of the time finding an open Ojeleye. Milton had a game-high five assists and pitched in 14 points, the second most for the Mustangs. Ben Moore also threw down a few exciting dunks and scored 12.
SMU out-rebounded Pitt 37-30 and through their first three games are +41 on the boards. They pulled down 14 offensive rebounds. Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said, “Their ability to offensive rebound and get second chance opportunity was the real key to the game.”
Pitt’s Michael Young and Jamel Artis scored 22 and 20 respectively, but the rest of the Panthers squad only mustarded up 25 points.