Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
SMU 67 – 55 Rice
The SMU Mustangs played their second to last game of the season and last game in Moody Coliseum, before the $47 million renovations are completed, against the Rice Owls on Feb. 27.
Being a meaningful event for former and current players alike, there were a number of ceremonies before and after the game. Before the game began, SMU honored senior London Giles as 13th all time leading scorer and for starting in over half of the more than 50 games he has played as a Mustang. But with 36 fouls and spills and dives a common sight, the game was more of a slug fest than a celebration.
In the early moments of the game, Giles did not disappoint. 11 sec in, he scored the first basket and put the Mustangs up by 3 pt. But Giles’ energy came with a price, however. He committed the first foul less than a minute later.
With 11:23 left in the half, Rice’s Max Guercy came back into the game, after being benched for a personal foul, and was able to speed up Rice’s offense enough for Tamir Jackson to score 2 pts within 30 sec of Guercy’s return to the court, bringing the score to 16-13 Mustangs. It was the first time the Owls scored since Guercy was subbed out a few minutes earlier.
Jackson’s basket was followed closely by a personal foul, the fourth foul for Rice. It was already gearing up to be a foul heavy game, and with only three men on the bench, it was not something Rice could easily afford. With 9:40 left in the first half, SMU’s Nick Russell ran over Jackson. Guercy returned the favor by steamrolling an SMU player. It was becoming as ugly and indiscriminate as a Shakespearean vendetta.
The remainder of the half was less than exciting. Although the game play was at times smart and at others downright brutal, overall it was rather clumsy.
The first half ended with a score of 35-20 Mustangs.
Guercy, with 3 fouls, was back on the court at the start of the second half but decided to slow it down and move the ball instead of constantly cutting towards the basket and risking a foul. This allowed Jackson to score a 3 point shot after only 37 sec, making the score 35-23 Mustangs.
In one of the more exciting, if disorganized, moments of the game materialized with 2:40 left on the clock. A half court pass by the Mustangs bounced off an Owl to stay inbound where Ryan Manuel picked it up for an easy layup for the Mustangs.
The second half was a disappointment that lacked the half-crazed energy of the first without making up for it with any real finesse. Final score: 67-55 Mustangs.
With both teams making less than 75% of their shots, it is interesting to note that if foul shots were not counted, Rice would have won by 1 pt: 47-46.
One historically bright note, though, is that this win means that the Mustangs won their first game played in Moody in 1956 and the last game before renovations.
In his comments after the game, Mustang coach, Larry Brown, said,” I’m happy for the school because we started out with a win, we ended with a win.
“We got a win,” he continued. “These kids needed that, but I can see it in their faces that they think something bad is going to happen, and it’s pretty obvious that’s got to change.”