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Men’s basketball hosts the Trojans as regular season nears conclusion

Sophomore Michael Humphrey (left) put up career numbers against Washington State but struggled against Washington. As basketball heads into its last regular-season homestand, the Cardinal will rely on a strong performance from Humphrey. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford men’s basketball (13-12, 6-8 Pac-12) is back in action this Thursday and looks to rebound from Saturday’s disappointing 64-54 loss to Washington. Stanford will host the USC Trojans (19-8, 8-6) at Maples Pavilion as the regular season nears its end.

In their visit to Washington, the Cardinal failed to break the 55-point mark for the second time in their last five games. The offensive stagnation continues for Stanford, though injuries have played a part in slowing down an otherwise stout defensive squad.

Sophomore Michael Humphrey (above) put up  career numbers against Washington State but struggled against Washington. As basketball heads into its last regular-season homestand, the Cardinal will rely on a strong performance from Humphrey. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)
Sophomore Michael Humphrey (above) put up career numbers against Washington State but struggled against Washington. As basketball heads into its last regular-season homestand, the Cardinal will rely on a strong performance from the forward. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

Head coach Johnny Dawkins announced on Tuesday that forward Reid Travis will be out for the remainder of the season. The sophomore has been battling a stress reaction in his left leg and has missed Stanford’s last 17 games.

Sophomore Michael Humphrey, Stanford’s main building block for future seasons, is still trying to regain his rhythm following a thigh injury that limited him to 34 total minutes across the three games before the Washington school matchups.

Humphrey had a career night against Washington State, dropping 26 points and hitting both of his three-point attempts, despite having made only four others in his Stanford career. However, he followed his most impressive game of the season by going 1-10 from the field against the Huskies last weekend. The big man has been out of position at times on offense, and although his timing attacking the rim has improved, it is still visibly off when operating in the paint.

On the other hand, Rosco Allen continues to be the Cardinal’s only steady rock, day in and day out. Against Washington, the senior forward tallied his seventh career 20-point game and is averaging 19.0 points over his last eight contests. Allen is the only Stanford player to score in double digits in each of the Cardinal’s last five games.

Even with Allen’s consistent play, Stanford will need a fully comfortable Humphrey in order alleviate its offensive struggles and lock up a spot in the NIT tournament.

Unlike the Cardinal, who would essentially need to win the Pac-12 tournament to make it to March Madness, USC is currently projected as an 8- or 9-seed. Nevertheless, they are far from having that spot locked up given their fifth-place standing in the conference. The Trojans are one loss away from dropping into the bottom half of the Pac-12 and still have a matchup with Cal, which is on a five-game win streak, and No. 13 Oregon in their final conference game. A victory at Stanford is crucial in order for them to retain their shot at the Big Dance.

The Trojans’ balanced offense is led by their frontcourt duo of sophomore Jordan McLaughlin and junior Julian Jacobs. The two combine for 10.5 assists and 3 steals per game and average 13.4 and 12.3 points per contest, respectively. McLaughlin has improved as a three-point shooter, knocking down 4.1 three-point attempts per game at a .441 clip. Meanwhile, Jacobs assists a whopping 30.3 percent of field goals while he’s on the floor — one of the highest marks in the country.

Their potent guards are part of a well-disciplined Trojan offense that totals six players who average in double-figure scoring.

This is the lone matchup between Stanford and USC this season. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on Thursday at Maples Pavilion.

Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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