Stanford Bench Enjoying Big Night
It was a proud and mighty Oregon basketball team that took the floor Wednesday night at Stanford's Maples Pavilion.
The Ducks were undefeated in Pac-12 play, surprise leaders in the league and ranked No. 10 in the country. They had recently beaten both Arizona teams and UCLA, the three teams behind them in the Pac-12 standings. There was some swagger in their step.
Stanford, meanwhile, has been an underachiever.
While there is talent on the team, they had not shown a lot this season. They sat in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings and got blown out by a mediocre Colorado team last week. They did come back with a 31-point win (87-56) against Utah on Saturday, but the Utes are in last place in the Pac-12—so that didn't mean too much.
Make no mistake about it: This was Stanford’s night.
Oregon got blown out 76-52. Chasson Randle started the game with two three-pointers and a floater up the middle to give Stanford a 10-6 lead early. There was no looking back from there. By halftime the lead was 13, as the Cardinal headed into the locker room ahead 35-22.
Halftime adjustments did not help. Five minutes into the second half Stanford put the dagger into the Duck’s heart. Chasson Randle hit another three-pointer. On the inbound pass Oregon committed a foul, which gave the ball right back to Stanford. Aaron Bright immediately hit another three-pointer, just nine seconds after Randle’s. Those six points stretched the lead to 22, putting Stanford ahead 47-25.
The loss snapped Oregon’s nine-game winning streak. Their record (18-3, 7-1) still leaves them in first place in the Pac-12. Stanford (13-8, 4-4) is tied with Colorado for sixth place in the Pac-12.
There was no one hero.
Guards Randle (17 points, 3 assists) and Bright (12 points, 4 assists) both played well. So did forwards Dwight Powell (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Josh Huestis (14 points, 13 rebounds).
The unsung hero, however, was Andy Brown. His stat sheet is not impressive, with only nine points, but his defense was tenacious. He held high-scoring Oregon star E.J. Singler to just six points, well below his season average.
The offense did well, but the defense won the game, allowing Stanford to upend an undefeated (in the Pac-12) Oregon team.
Funny. That sounds just like the tag line from a football game in Eugene in mid-November. Duck fans must have left Maples Wednesday night shaking their heads. It was an all-too-familiar outcome.
For Stanford, this was a big win. It was the first victory over a Top Ten team since Feb. 2008 when the Cardinal beat No. 9 Washington State 67-65 in overtime. That was the year before coach Johnny Dawkins came to Stanford, making this one of Dawkins’ very biggest wins.
One game does not make a season. But coming right after a big win at Utah, Stanford has shown they can play.
Next up is Oregon State on Sunday. The Beavers have not had a good season, and Stanford is poised for another big win. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain the high level of play shown in the last two games.
Soon we’ll get to see whether this talented group of Cardinal players can emerge and become one of the front-runners in the Pac-12.