How it Happened
SMU's 22-point lead at the under-8 timeout of the first half vs. McNeese State was apparently not good enough. Monday night, SMU had a 35-9 lead at the under-8 and made 14 of its first 20 field goals against Stanford, which came in ranked in the top 30 in defensive efficiency. Hard to get any better than that.
Six SMU players made a 3-pointer in the first half as the Mustangs started 8-for-15 from deep. Five players scored at least five points in the first half. Meanwhile, Stanford's starters combined for one point and missed all nine field goal attempts between them. Reid Travis, who entered the game averaging 18.3 points and 9.8 rebounds, did not take a single field goal in the first half. Dorian Pickens, Stanford's only reliable threat from 3, missed both his attempts from there in the first half. Ben Moore did well keeping Travis in front of him, but Stanford's poor passing and turnovers hurt any effort to get him the ball consistently.
Travis finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Sterling Brown had a game-high 16. Ben Emelogu scored nine points for the second straight game. Shake Milton had 11 points and nine assists. SMU was outscored 30-24 in the second half, but still never trailed by fewer than 21 points during it.
What it Means
With a team full of wings, SMU looks very comfortable running an offense that doesn't emphasize positions and is interchangeable. Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and Sterling Brown each played on the ball early. Brown and Ben Moore ran the pick and roll a few times with success. SMU played a lot of 4-out, 1-in and perimeter oriented offense, with 26 of the 51 field goal attempts coming from 3. After struggling with turnovers earlier this year, SMU's passing and ball security looks much better now, even without an elite facilitator. Of the 27 made field goals, 21 were assisted. SMU had some turnover issues in the second half, but only had four in the first half. The second half was a little rougher, but the first half should be an encouraging sign for SMU's offense. Now, SMU has to prove it can have more halves like the first half tonight.
Player of the Game
Ben Moore. He left briefly after cutting open his lip, but the senior finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds. More importantly, he shut down Travis in the first half. Moore had four blocks, including an impressive stuff of Travis early in the second half. He handled Stanford's bigger forwards admirably, and will have to play similarly with SMU short on frontcourt depth and size. He'll have an early-season challenge with Memphis' Dedric Lawson in eight days.
SMU held Stanford to 20 percent (3-of-15) 3-point shooting. Stanford doesn't rely on 3-pointers and doesn't have a lot of shooters, but it's still a good sign for a team that has struggled defending them.
SMU plays again Tuesday night when it hosts Albany. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.