No. 14 SMU overwhelms Memphis 103-62 for outright AAC title

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DALLAS — Sterling Brown had 26 points and 10 rebounds in his final home game for No. 14 SMU, and the Mustangs clinched the outright American Athletic Conference title with a 103-62 victory over Memphis on Saturday.

Brown, one of three seniors playing their Moody Coliseum finale, was part of his school-record 106th victory as the Mustangs (27-4, 17-1) won their second conference title in three seasons.

Brown had a long inbounds pass to Semi Ojeleye for a breakaway one-handed dunk and hit consecutive 3-pointers in an early 15-2 run that put SMU in control of the game.

Ojeleye, coming off a 9-of-9 shooting game Thursday, made his first three shots on the way to 19 points while finishing 5 of 6 with three 3-pointers. Ben Moore, another senior, had 16 points.

Keon Clergeot had 14 points, while Dedric Lawson had 13 and Jeremiah Martin 12 for Memphis (19-12, 9-9), which trailed by as many as 48 points in the second half.

SMU takes a 13-game winning streak into next week’s AAC Tournament in Hartford, Connecticut as the top seed, and then back to the NCAA Tournament after being banned from all postseason play last season.

The Mustangs celebrated with confetti and streamers after the finale at Moody, where they won all 18 games this season and have won 22 in a row.

The crowd included former President George W. Bush, a frequent attender, along with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown, the Hall of Fame coach who led SMU’s impressive turnaround the past four seasons before unexpectedly leaving the job last summer when unable to come to terms on a new contract.

With two-time American Athletic Conference player of the year Nic Moore and AAC top sixth man Markus Kennedy, SMU won 25 games last season but couldn’t advance to the postseason again in their senior seasons because of NCAA penalties from a September 2015 ruling involving a case of academic fraud under Brown.

While the postseason ban was for only one year, the Mustangs are still short-handed because of scholarship reductions that extend past this season. They played several games this season with only six available scholarship players.

Jonathan Wilfong, a walk-on senior who started for only the second time in his 52 career games, had a nifty pass to Moore that broke the game’s only tie, which was 4-4. That was also the first of 10 consecutive SMU points in less than 2 1/2 minutes.

When Wilfong hit a jumper with just over 6 minutes left for his first points, the Mustangs led 87-44 and the crowd erupted.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: The Tigers were off to an 18-7 start in their first season under Tubby Smith, but have lost five of their last six games.

SMU: While the Mustangs put up a lot of points, they are one of the nation’s top defensive teams — allowing only 59 points a game. They have held 22 of their last 24 opponents to 66 points or less. … SMU shot 61 percent (34 of 56), including 14 of 28 on 3-pointers.

UP NEXT

Memphis: Tigers wait until rest of AAC regular season games played Sunday to find out if they will be seeded fifth or better to avoid a first-round game in the tournament.

SMU: Quarterfinal game in the AAC tournament Friday against East Carolina or Temple.

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