- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - Emptying the bench took on a different dimension for No. 18 SMU on Wednesday night when the bench consisted of just two seats.

Jordan Tolbert had 18 points and 23 rebounds while Ben Moore had 22 points and 15 rebounds as SMU started fast and routed Nicholls State 86-42 on Wednesday night.

The short-handed Mustangs (8-0) took a 12-0 lead and kept pulling away. Tolbert’s rebounds were the most by an SMU player in 40 years.

SMU used its seven available players, including one walk-on, with three players out with injuries. The missing included regular starters Markus Kennedy, who left the previous game on Dec. 8 with an ankle injury, and Keith Frazier, sidelined for the first time this season by a nagging knee injury.

Mustangs associate coach Tim Jankovich, who’s running the team while head coach Larry Brown serves a nine-game NCAA suspension, said his greatest concerns were foul trouble and an injury such as the one that shelved Kennedy one minute into SMU’s 82-58 win over Michigan.

“I was ready to go to zone defense to stay out of foul trouble,” Jankovich said. “Those were tremendous fears that kept me up late, late last night. But none of it turned out.”

Freshman Shake Milton tied his season high with 20 points. Sterling Brown added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Mustangs.

Tolbert’s rebound total was the school’s best since December 1975, when Ira Terrell grabbed an SMU-record 26. Jankovich said Tolbert’s numbers resembled a video game.

“A 23-rebound night - I don’t care who you’re playing, when you’re playing or what you’re playing, you don’t see many of those,” he said.

T.J. Carpenter led the Colonels (3-6) with 12 points. Nicholls State was limited to 25.4 percent shooting.

The Mustangs outrebounded the Colonels 62-25 and shot 50.8 percent. They went into the game shooting 51.3 percent from the floor, ranking third in NCAA Division I.

Brown opened the scoring with a pair of 3-pointers from the left corner. After Nicholls got on the board with a short turnaround by Liam Thomas 4:20 into the game, the Mustangs responded with the next eight points to move ahead 20-2.

“Our worst fears came to fruition,” Nicholls coach J.P. Piper said. “At the first media (timeout), we were really out of it.”

Jankovich said he’s hopeful Kennedy and Frazier can play Thursday against Hampton.

“Questionable? Doubtful? What are the other ones? It really is like a game-time decision,” he said.

The other sidelined SMU player, little-used reserve Sedrick Barefield, will be out again with an illness.

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

As SMU warmed up for the second half, practice player David Nelson walked to the opposite side of the court and renewed acquaintances with a frequent Mustangs observer, former President George W. Bush. “I just said, ‘Thank you for your service’ and what he’s done for SMU basketball,” said Nelson, a senior from Cleveland. Nelson said Bush replied by saying, “It looks like you guys are doing well out there.”

DOESN’T STAY IN VEGAS

SMU’s games on Wednesday and Thursday are part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic that will continue next week at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Mustangs will face Kent State next Tuesday and then either Colorado or Penn State the following night.

TIP-INS

Nicholls State: Texas wasn’t a kind shooting venue for the Colonels this week. They shot 28.6 percent in their 78-60 loss at North Texas on Monday night.

SMU: Walk-on junior Jonathan Wilfong set a career high before halftime. He finished with 21 minutes, 12 more than his previous mark, and hit a first-half 3-pointer to equal his career-high scoring.

UP NEXT

Nicholls State: At Colorado on Friday.

SMU: Home vs. Hampton on Thursday.

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