Matt Visinsky

Pony Stampede Game Preview: SMU Mustangs vs. Stanford Cardinal

Hatts previews SMU's late night road matchup tonight against Stanford.

When: Thurs., Nov. 19 at 10:30 pm CT 
Where: Maples Pavilion (Palo Alto, Calif.) 
TV/Radio: ESPN 2
Series: Stanford leads the series 2-0
Last Meeting: Stanford won the last meeting 86-51 in 1998 in the first round of the NIT

Pony Trends 

SMU opened their season with an impressive 85-50 victory over Sam Houston State in which they got to get everyone involved, aside from Sed Barefield who missed the game due to an illness. Thursday’s matchup with Stanford will be a much bigger test for SMU being their first road game against a team that was close to making the NCAA tournament last season. If the Mustangs continue to move the ball as well as get another couple of big performances from their freshman, it will go a long way toward SMU picking up a big non conference win early on in the year. 

Scouting Stanford

The Stanford Cardinal suffered a lot of injuries before the season with Robert Cartwright, Marcus Allen, Malcolm Allen and Grant Verhoeven all going down, however, the Cardinal have started with two solid wins already and enter as a dangerous team. Led by Christian Sanders and Rosco Allen, Stanford can score fast and score a lot as they’ve put up over 90 points in both games so far this season. The Cardinal has struggled early on in the year with turnovers, especially their 21 turnover performance against Wisconsin-Green Bay, and at the free throw line where they are barely cracking 60 percent. 

Three Players to Watch 

Christian Sanders: The senior guard only found out a couple weeks before the season that he would be pressed into a starting role but has come out of the gate playing great. Sanders has done it both ways scoring 23 points in the opener while dishing out eight assists in their second game of the season. Sanders’ one negative so far has been turnovers but other than that the Cardinal will certainly take the way he has led this offense so far this year. 

Rosco Allen: Allen is one of the senior leaders and will be one to watch all night. At 6-9, 220-pounds, the forward is long but extremely athletic, and a good outside shooter. Allen is averaging just over 17 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal and has shown in the past he can carry this team to a win. 

Michael Humphrey: Allen also has some help in the frontcourt with Humphrey off to a great start to his sophomore campaign. Humphrey has a double double in both of Stanford’s first two contests and can really rebound the ball well. Aside from Humphrey’s double digital rebound performances this year, he also pulled down 15 rebounds freshman year against Oregon State after grabbing 14 rebounds against Cal. SMU has struggled in the past giving up offensive rebounds and will certainly have to keep an eye on Humphrey to keep him off the glass. 

Matchup to Watch

SMU Frontcourt vs. Rosco Allen and Michael Humphrey: Stanford has been great on the offensive glass this year with 26 offensive rebounds already. Markus Kennedy, Ben Moore and Jordan Tolbert have to keep these two off the offensive glass, as well as, stay out of foul trouble. This is the type of game that if SMU’s bigs get in foul trouble they could be in trouble. SMU definitely has an advantage inside as well though if they can take advantage of pounding the ball into the post. 

Keys to the Game

When SMU has struggled on the road, turnovers have been the number one reason they’ve walked away with a loss. This will be one of the deciding factors in the game, especially an early road test out west. If SMU can limit their turnovers and get a good shot every time down, they certainly have a chance to walk out of Maples Pavilion 2-0. If they turn it over however it’s going to be an uphill climb, do not sleep on the Cardinal. 

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