The Stanford men’s basketball team will attempt to accomplish something tonight it has never done under head coach Johnny Dawkins: defeat the Washington Huskies in Seattle. Even including a 79-67 home victory against the Huskies on Jan. 18, Stanford (15-7, 6-4 Pac-12) owns just a 2-9 record against Washington (13-11, 5-6) with Dawkins as head coach. The losing streak in Seattle spans four games, with the Cardinal’s last win coming back on Jan. 31, 2008, when Brook Lopez’s monster 31-point, 13-rebound performance powered Stanford to a 65-51 victory.
Tonight’s matchup figures to be an excellent opportunity for Stanford to snap the streak, given that the two teams are currently trending in opposite directions. The Cardinal has won six of eight and two straight, including a resounding 80-69 drubbing of archrival Cal in Berkeley last week. It may have been the team’s most complete performance to date this season, as Stanford staked itself out to a big lead early and then successfully shut down any comeback attempts by the feisty Bears, which had just beaten then-No. 1 Arizona in its previous game.
The Cardinal has found its recipe for success by playing solid man-to-man defense, having held its opponents to just 40.3 percent shooting over its past four games. Stanford will look to do more of the same on Wednesday night in Seattle, where the Huskies’ offense has certainly not been kind to the Cardinal in recent trips to the Emerald City. During the last four meetings at Alaska Airlines Arena, the Huskies have averaged 85.3 points per game on 47.9 percent shooting.
The good news for the Cardinal is that the matchup between the two teams appears to be different this year from other recent ones, as evidenced by Stanford’s victory earlier this season against the Huskies. Defense was the catalyst for the Cardinal in that performance, as Husky star senior guard C.J. Wilcox was held to just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, 10 below his season average. Look for Stanford senior Anthony Brown to again hound Wilcox all night long in an attempt to shut down one of the Pac-12’s most lethal scorers.
Washington, on the other hand, enters Wednesday’s contest searching for answers, having been swept on the road last week by the likes of Utah and Colorado. Sunday’s loss to the Buffaloes was particularly disheartening for Husky fans, as Washington was outplayed in every facet of the game en route to a 26-point blowout loss. The Huskies allowed the Buffaloes to shoot 55 percent from the field in surrendering 91 points, the highest total conceded by Washington since it gave up 102 to Indiana on Nov. 21.
Although the Huskies are certainly not playing their best ball of the season at the moment, the Cardinal would be foolish to take them lightly. Whatever has ailed Washington on the road this season seems to magically cure itself at home. The Huskies are 11-2 this season within the friendly confines of Alaska Airlines Arena, including a 4-0 mark in conference play.
The Cardinal will hope to continue to ride the strong play of senior forward Dwight Powell, who has been particularly assertive of late. In his last two contests, Powell is averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists, both Stanford wins over tournament-caliber teams Cal and Arizona State. He certainly poses a matchup problem for the Huskies, who feature just one player in their rotation taller than 6-foot-8.
In addition to Powell, junior guard Chasson Randle will look to duplicate his performance from the last time these two teams met. Randle matched his career high with 33 points against the Huskies on Jan. 18, and he did it by being aggressive attacking the hoop. Randle made just one 3-pointer and shot 13 free throws during his big night. A similar level of confident play by Randle could once more result in a big night for the conference’s third-leading scorer, as Washington’s defense has certainly struggled of late.
Tipoff is set for tonight at 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.