Maybe it was the announcing team of Brent Musberger and Bill Walton. Perhaps it was the rowdy student section overfilled with frats and sororities that unexpectedly rolled out in force on a Wednesday night. It’s possible that Dwight Powell, Josh Huestis and Aaron Bright simply ate their Wheaties in addition to getting fresh haircuts.
Whatever the reason, the Stanford men’s basketball team put on a high-flying, hot-shooting, highlight-reel worthy performance in a 76-52 rout of No. 10 Oregon at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday night.
The Ducks (18-3, 7-1 Pac-12) had entered the game on an eight-game winning streak, sitting atop the conference, thanks to a strong offensive attack and a knack for pulling out close victories.
Stanford (13-8, 4-4) made sure there would be no chance of Oregon pulling out another win by taking the Ducks out of their game from start to finish.
The effort certainly made coach Johnny Dawkins happy. “I just thought it was a great game,” he said. “I thought our atmosphere was terrific, you know, our student body, our band. I just really thought it was a great atmosphere for our guys to play in, and I thought our guys really responded. So I think that combination of having great support along with the way our guys played inspired us this evening and made for a fun game for us.”
The Cardinal carried over the pure shooting stroke it had displayed in Sunday night’s 31-point rout over Utah on the court against Oregon. Guards Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright couldn’t miss from behind the arc — literally, going 6-6 from downtown — and combined for 29 points.
Inside, where Stanford had been wary of the Ducks’ size and aptitude for crashing the glass, the Card again did not back down. Forwards Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell had 13 boards apiece, repeatedly boxing out well and snatching rebounds on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
“To be honest, I keep repeating it but just that mindset that we were going to do whatever it takes [to win the battle on the glass],” Powell said. “[Oregon’s Tony] Woods and [Arsalan] Kazemi were great rebounders, great offensive rebounders, so just we went in with that awareness and tried to take them out as best as we could. And the guards did a good job of boxing them out and helping, so the balls, we were able to get to them.”
Most importantly, however, was the defensive effort for Stanford.
While the Ducks were missing their starting point guard, Dominic Artis, due to injury, it might not have mattered as the Cardinal’s defense was swarming from the opening tip. Two steals in the first 94 seconds gave the student section some life, waving giant cutout heads of UCLA legend Bill Walton, who was announcing the game for ESPN, and Andrew Luck.
Five turnovers and a missed dunk didn’t help the Ducks’ cause, as they fell into an early 12-point hole. Immediately after Kazemi threw down a dunk for Oregon’s first points of the game, Stanford went on a three-point barrage, with Powell, Randle, Bright and junior John Gage each raining down a three-pointer that had the crowd roaring in appreciation.
The Ducks scored just two points in over five minutes of play and trailed by 13 at the break. Another two-handed slam by Kazemi near the end of the half was the only real highlight Oregon had in the first twenty minutes.
“We were just trying to be as intense as possible and as aggressive as possible, helping each other out,” Powell said. “We spent a lot of time watching film on them and watching their offensive schemes, so just trying to be prepared for the types of screens they set.
“[Oregon star E.J.] Singler’s always a threat, so we were keying in on him and trying to make sure he didn’t get off, because he’s a playmaker and a scorer for them, so we always had an eye on him and Andy [Brown] did a great job sticking with him. But I think it just came down to having that intensity and that mindset that we were going to dig in tonight and do whatever it takes,” he said.
A three-ball from Singler brought the Ducks within 10 to open the second half, and then Stanford took off once again. Powell, Randle and Bright all hit shots to key the offense, and the Card capitalized on more of Oregon’s 20 turnovers. A massive putback dunk from Huestis put Stanford up by 22, with under six minutes to play, sent the few Oregon fans in the building heading for the exits.
As the final seconds ticked down, the student section’s chants of “overrated” rang out for the first time in quite a while — the Card hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent since Jan. 13, 2011, when it topped Washington 58-56 at home. Stanford’s last upset over a top-10 team came in a 67-65 overtime win at Washington State on Feb. 2, 2008.
Randle, for one, hopes the two-game winning streak is indicative of good things to come for Stanford, which desperately needs to string wins together in order to make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid in March. “Really, I just hope we can look at this game and just look at it as a stepping stone,” he said, “just keep going up and keep being better every single day. And look at this game and really see the things that we did well, and even the things that we can improve on. This was a great team that we faced tonight, and we beat them on our home floor. If we could do that on the road that would be great.”
First, though, Stanford must take care of business again on its home court when Oregon State (11-9, 1-6 Pac-12) rolls into town on Sunday. Tip off from Maples is slated for 3 p.m.
Contact Miles Bennett-Smith at email@example.com