DALLAS (AP) – SMU coach Tim Jankovich watched the Mustangs run out to a 32-point lead in the first half against Stanford and couldn’t help but take stock of his team in his first year replacing Hall of Famer Larry Brown.
Sterling Brown scored 16 points and SMU rolled to a 72-49 win over the Cardinal on Monday night for a 22nd consecutive non-conference home victory. More notably from Jankovich’s perspective, it was the fifth straight win — and most impressive — since dropping a pair on the road at Southern California and Boise State.
“We’re certainly far more toward the team that I want us to be than we were three weeks ago or so,” Jankovich said. “What I’m picturing and what I feel like we’re capable, I think we’ve got a lot of growth potential left. And I am very excited about that.”
Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs (9-3), who shot 59 percent to 21 percent in the first half for the Cardinal while taking leads of 12-0, 30-7 and 44-12.
Reid Travis, the leading scorer for Stanford (7-4), didn’t get a shot in the first half, when Cardinal starters scored one point. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half, while Marcus Sheffield led Stanford with 13 points.
“It’s hard to get the ball inside when the other team doesn’t want it to be there,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “We took the easy route and weren’t able to get him touches and that’s why he didn’t get any shots.”
Shake Milton had 11 points and a career-high nine assists, four on alley-oop dunks. Three were to Jarrey Foster, and the other Ben Moore, who had four of SMU’s seven blocks, one off its season high. Foster’s second alley-oop made it 44-12 with 5:15 left in the first half.
“We were knocking down shots here and there and just moving the ball, playing unselfishly,” Foster said. “I would say that was probably one of the best halves we’ve played, a lot of energy.”
The Mustangs, who are 40-3 at home since the start of the 2014-15 season, had a sluggish second half, especially compared to the first, shooting 42 percent and getting outscored 30-24.
“In the second half, it’s not like they were playing the same way either,” Haase said. “It’s really hard to gauge.”
Moore scored all 10 of his points before leaving in the first half with a cut on his lip that required stitches. He was limited to 10 minutes after halftime, but still had a game-high nine rebounds. “It’s not a lot of fun when Ben Moore is in the dressing room … getting stitched up and you just keep looking down the bench, going `Is he going to come back or not?”‘ Jankovich said.
Stanford: It was a reality check less than two weeks before the Pac-12 opener, with the Cardinal shooting 21 percent in the first half while falling behind by 20 points in less than 9 minutes. Stanford was much more competitive in the first half of a loss at No. 3 Kansas.
SMU: A blowout loss to Michigan, followed soon after by the USC and Boise losses, dropped the Mustangs from Top 25 consideration. But they might start getting votes if anyone notices the huge first-half lead in this game.
Stanford: After wrapping up a non-conference road schedule that covered about 25,000 miles and included a trip to China, the Cardinal get a final Pac-12 tuneup at home against Idaho on Thursday. The league schedule opens at home against Arizona State (Dec. 30) and Arizona (Jan. 1).
SMU: The Mustangs finish non-conference with a rare back-to-back, hosting Albany on Tuesday. The American Athletic Conference opener is Dec. 27 at Memphis
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