But SMU head coach Tim Jankovich doesn’t want to hear about that.
Instead, he will mention Emelogu’s underappreciated contributions. Like his six-assist game vs. East Carolina on Feb. 1 that went unnoticed because he scored just three of SMU’s 86 points. Or the 11 second-half points he provided vs. Houston on Jan. 21 – in place of Jarrey Foster – overshadowed by Shake Milton and Semi Ojeleye’s 47 combined points.
“So many times a guy is playing terrific, I mean terrific, and not scoring a lot of points or doesn’t have a great scoring night,” Jankovich said. “Ben is underappreciated by a lot of people, but not by his teammates and not by our staff. He guards like crazy, he’s very smart, he’s in the right place, he makes plays for others, he’s tough and he’s a very good passer.”
In Sunday’s 60-51 win, though, underappreciated doesn’t apply, because he scored. He made both his 3-point tries and scored seven of his points during SMU’s 15-0 second-half run that gave the Mustangs the lead for good.
Minutes earlier, Emelogu was on the floor for Cincinnati’s 12-0 run at the start of the second half. He gave up a 3 to Jacob Evans when he didn’t rotate over in time. The run started when he replaced Sterling Brown after Brown picked up his third foul a minute into the half. SMU’s biggest opportunity of the season was slipping away, and someone needed to do something about it.
Then, out of nowhere, Emelogu did just that. For the first time this season, the player whose best games get overlooked stepped into the role that’s impossible to overlook.
And then he created the opportunity to yell.
First, a 3-pointer to snap the Cincinnati run. An assist on Semi Ojeleye’s 3-pointer to bring SMU within three points. A steal to set up Shake Milton’s 3-pointer that tied the score at 40. A free throw that put SMU ahead 41-40. The second 3-pointer that put SMU up by four. And to cap it off, an offensive rebound and assist on Brown’s tip-in that forced Cincinnati to call a timeout.
Just like that, SMU led by six points.
“Today, the opportunity really presented itself,” Emelogu said. “This was the game where I seized the opportunity.”
Jankovich too is, obviously, thrilled that confidence showed up in the form of points. SMU doesn’t come back to win without Emelogu’s scoring. But he’s more thrilled that this time, Emelogu’s strong play was obvious enough to warrant attention.
“He’s a heck of a player. When he scores, he’s a really, really good player,” Jankovich said. “I love it when he scores because they start looking at him. He deserves to be looked at.”http://www.smudailycampus.com/sports/be ... cincinnati
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung