The Stanford Cardinal hit the road on Wednesday evening and ground out a gutsy 53-51 upset over the No. 10 Connecticut Huskies at Hartford's XL Center.
In a game that saw both teams put on a haunting display in Connecticut, junior Stanford guard Chasson Randle was the clear standout performer, scoring a game-high 22 points including four three-pointers.
The loss snapped the Huskies' 54-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Stanford upsets 10 Connecticut, hands Huskies 1st loss of season. UConn's 1st non-conference home loss since 2007 (had won 54 straight)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 19, 2013
UConn was up 38-28 at halftime and looked to be cruising to an easy home victory, but went completely cold and scored just 13 points in the final 20 minutes. The Huskies wound up shooting a meager 31.7 percent for the game.
CBS personality Doug Gottlieb weighed in, alluding to the Cardinal's prowess on defense, which is usually reserved for the gridiron more than the hardwood:
Stanford is a defensive jugger naut…holds UConn to 13 pts in 2nd half…wait what?— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) December 19, 2013
Forward Dwight Powell led an exceptional defensive effort from the inside for Stanford with four blocks and 15 rebounds, which made up for his 4-of-18 shooting for 10 points on the other end of the court.
Apparently he took to heart what was being said in the Cardinal huddle at one point in the game, per Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant:
Dwight powell "we knew we were doing the job, we got together and said 'we have to get every rebound' #uconnmen— Dom Amore (@AmoreCourant) December 19, 2013
Versatile big men DeAndre Daniels led the Huskies with 15 points and swatted four shots of his own, as the Cardinal struggled to do anything in the paint.
But the problem was that UConn couldn't hit anything from the perimeter. Senior guard Shabazz Napier kicked in 12 points of his own, but hit just four of his 13 shots from the field after entering the game shooting at 50 percent.
Thanks to Randle's extraordinary efforts, his squad was able come away with an improbable triumph.
Amore brings Kevin Ollie's perspective to the loss:
Ollie "we didn't have toughness to win this game tonight and I hate to say that" #uconnmen— Dom Amore (@AmoreCourant) December 19, 2013
Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com pointed out how big this win was for head coach Johnny Dawkins, whose team benefited from a beating a big-name opponent outside of the Pac-12 conference:
Huge win for Johnny Dawkins and Stanford. Cardinal finally got the key non-conference win they needed.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 19, 2013
The Cardinal took a bit of a step back last season in going 19-15 after winning the NIT the year before, but now they're off to an 8-2 start and have a perfect 3-0 record on the road.
This is momentous for Stanford as it prepares to face a talented Michigan team next. That's especially so considering the strength of the Pac-12, which Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports accentuated in pondering whether or not it is the nation's best conference:
Shall we consider the possibility that the PAC 12 is the best conference? Not a stinker in the bunch.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) December 19, 2013
The Huskies will seek to bounce back after falling to 9-1 on the 2013-14 campaign when they travel to Seattle to face Washington on Dec. 22.