Ben Moore and Nic Moore were effective the pick and roll all night. Moore hit a long two in the first-half and had another open look from the elbow. SMU needed production from Ben Moore with Markus Kennedy in foul trouble, and he delivered, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and seven rebounds. He's much more confident and looks much more relaxed than last season, and SMU needs him to keep producing.
SMU will be hard pressed to share the ball as well as it did tonight. Nic Moore stole the show passing-wise, highlighted by a first-half lob pass to Ben Moore, a push-ahead transition pass to Keith Frazier midway in first half and a quick pass to Jordan Tolbert for a dunk (after getting through a trio of defenders). But the senior point guard wasn't alone. Jordan Tolbert, Sterling Brown, Keith Frazier and Ben Moore each had multi-assist games. SMU's ability to share the ball helped it control the tempo and get the shots it wanted. Overall, it assisted on 18 of 33 field goals.
The fewer mistakes, the greater the chance to win on the road. Turnovers doomed SMU in an early-season road loss to Indiana, but the Mustangs executed much better on the road. They only had eight turnovers and players not named Markus Kennedy only committed 16 fouls, a solid number with the new points of emphasis on fouls. Furthermore, SMU took advantage of Stanford's eight first-half turnovers, turning them into 17 first-half points that helped SMU build a quick lead after trailing early.
After giving up 14 offfensive boards to Sam Houston State, SMU surrendered nine to Stanford. That doesn't seem terrible, but six came early in the game and allowed Stanford to hang around in the first half despite poor ball security and shooting numbers. Markus Kennedy's foul trouble gave Stanford a more pronounced advantage in the paint, but SMU needs to limit the second-chance points regardless.
Kennedy Foul Trouble
For the second time in as many games, Markus Kennedy picked up two early fouls. He got his second with a little more than six minutes gone in the first half and didn't return until the second half. He picked up his third foul just 3 minutes and 25 second into the second half. To his credit, he stayed in and actually scored SMU's next four points. His foul trouble didn't seriously hurt SMU against Sam Houston State and surprisingly didn't ignite a solid Stanford frontcourt, but Jordan Tolbert stepped in and limited any damage. SMU should continue to survive and advance against its weaker nonconference opponents, but its an issue that needs to be sorted out because of SMU's thin frontcourt.
Giving a Little Hope
This is a little nitpicky, but SMU didn't completely put Stanford away, despite one team playing significantly better than the other. Jarrey Foster's three-pointer gave SMU had a 20-point lead with about 13 minutes left. Stanford proceeded to got on a 10-2 run over the next three-plus minutes to make the score 60-48 with 10 minutes left, aided by four SMU fouls and three turnovers in that span. The Mustangs bounced back with a 10-5 run of their own, but they could have put the game away a lot faster if they had executed for that three-minute patch.