1. Going small can work.
After the departure of Harry Froling, many wondered whether SMU's lack of size would hurt them. This game, it certainly did not. When Semi Ojeleye or Ben Moore is out of the game, SMU now goes to a lineup that features Sterling Brown or Jarrey Foster at the four. These lineups obviously leave SMU undersized in the paint, but they open up the game on the offensive end. When they go small, SMU has four players who can handle the ball, and are comfortable driving into the lane. SMU punished Stanford with Brown and Foster at the four, driving and kicking faster than the Cardinal defense could respond. On defense, the small lineup gives SMU a mobile, switchy look. Conceivably, post behemoths could punish them, but Stanford's star big man Reid Travis did not even take a shot in the first half and finished with just ten points, eight shy of his season average. SMU also did not get punished on the boards tonight, out-rebounding Stanford by two. Foster and Brown are chippy players who can battle with bigs down low, and they did well on the glass, registering seven and six, respectively.. Brown and Foster each had an impressive block tonight as well.
2. SMU can shoot it, and going small helps this.
SMU shot an impressive 11-26 from three-point range today, and threes were a big reason that they were able to jump out to such a large lead in the first half. SMU always has four players on the floor who are threats from beyond the arc, and when Ben Moore checks out, they have five. Early in the game, SMU ball-handlers were constantly flitting into the lane and throwing it out to open shooters. When Harry Froling was on the floor, SMU had to play a slower pace to accommodate the plodding big man. With Froling gone, the team is free to move around as they please, which opens up lots of clean looks from beyond the arc.
3. The defense is playing well.
In the first half, SMU shut down Stanford's offense. The Cardinal are not an especially talented team on the offensive end; they shoot just 28.7% from three on the season, but they are a respectable team (no McNeese State) and SMU completely smothered them in the first half. Stanford's best player, Reid Travis, was not able to do much against SMU, finishing with ten points. Stanford's offense was able to get going in the second half, but SMU had taken its foot off the pedal by that point. SMU's abundance of long perimeter defenders allows them to switch when they need to, and Ben Moore is an elite rim protector when opponents do get to the cup.