The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team (16-12, 7-8 Pac-12) delivered its most impressive performance of the season on Jan. 30th when it knocked off the Oregon Ducks (22-6, 11-4), ranked No. 10 in the nation at the time, in blowout fashion. When the Card traveled to Eugene to take on the Ducks for the second time this season, it was looking for a similar result.
However, in January, the Ducks were reeling after losing their starting point guard Dominic Artis to a foot injury. They have since had time to acclimate, adjusting their game plan to compensate for his absence. The team that Stanford played in Eugene on Saturday night was very different from the one that showed up at Maples Pavilion earlier in the season.
Early on, it appeared that Stanford was going to have its way for the second time, as it jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead after guard Aaron Bright found teammate Chasson Randle on the perimeter for an open 3-pointer. Oregon then picked up the intensity, going on a quick 8-0 run, highlighted by two offensive rebound put-backs from forward Tony Woods, to grab a one point lead.
The remainder of the half was very back-and-forth, as neither team could establish themselves as the dominant force. Senior forward Arsalan Kazemi gave the Ducks their biggest lead of the half when he converted on a layup in the paint, putting them up 21-16 with just over five minutes to play.
Stanford junior forward Dwight Powell immediately countered, knocking down a mid-range jump shot and then picking up an and-one in the paint. He made the free throw, cutting Stanford’s deficit to three. Two minutes later, junior forward Josh Huestis recaptured the lead for the Card, throwing down a nice dunk to put his team up by one.
Johnathan Loyd then started to heat up, draining a 3-pointer and then hitting a pair of free throws to give Oregon a 30-26 lead. Junior forward John Gage’s 3-point attempt to close out the half then rimmed out, sending Stanford into the break down four.
The second half was a similar story, as the Ducks couldn’t quite pull away. Each time it appeared that Oregon was going to go on a run, the Card would counter with a bucket. After Tony Woods made a jump shot, Huestis knocked down a rare 3-pointer, putting Stanford down 37-33 with 15:49 remaining. Oregon’s E.J. Singler teamed up with Loyd to make back-to-back layups to stretch the Ducks’ lead to eight.
The Ducks then started to pull away at the 10-minute mark, as Singler went three-for-four from the free-throw line to give his squad a 51-36 lead. Senior Carlos Emory then took control for Oregon, draining three straight jumpers on consecutive possessions. Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins, sensing that the game was spiraling out of control for his team, then called a timeout down 58-39.
It was to no avail, as the Card couldn’t find its offensive rhythm following the break in play. Oregon remained in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game, eventually closing out the 77-66 win. For Stanford, this marked another missed opportunity in a season that has been defined by them.
The hero of the night for the Ducks was Loyd, who followed up his worst performance of the year in their game against Cal with his best. After scoring zero points on 0-for-6 shooting and committing three turnovers, Loyd bounced back against the Cardinal. The guard scored a season-high 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting and recorded nine assists.
Huestis led the way for Stanford, recording his ninth double-double of the year. Huestis scored 12 points (4-9 from the field) and grabbed 13 rebounds. His effort was not enough, as the Card was doomed by poor shooting. The team’s field-goal percentage was 37.7 (20-53).
While this loss makes it nearly impossible for Stanford to move into the fourth seed heading into the Pac-12 tournament, there are reasons to be optimistic. The Card has continuously shown the ability to spread the floor and move the ball well. If the shots begin to fall, Stanford could be a team to watch in the conference tournament.
Stanford’s next game is on Wednesday, Feb. 27, when the Colorado Buffalos come to town. The Card will be looking to avenge an ugly loss in Boulder at the beginning of conference play.
Contact Mike Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.