Thursday night, Stanford was led to a 84-64 blowout victory over USC by an explosive first-half performance by sophomore Dorian Pickens. Though Pickens had another solid outing against UCLA on Saturday, it was fellow sophomore Michael Humphrey who stole the show this time against the Bruins with a dazzling display in the second half.
Behind Humphrey’s hard-earned 24 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, the Cardinal (15-12, 8-8 Pac-12) capped off their last home game of the regular season with a 79-70 victory over the struggling Bruins (15-14, 6-10).
“We think Mike can be an impact player on both ends,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “He’s learning just how good he can be. Now, he’s growing into that role, into one of our guys that we can depend on.”
Humphrey sank 12 of his 14 field goal attempts on the night on a variety of shots, doing so with an array of moves, both in the post and outside the paint. Humphrey’s face-up game caused the most trouble for the UCLA bigs, allowing him to open up the lane for post-ups and drives. The sophomore sank four of his shots from beyond five feet of the basket.
The win marked the second victory in three days and fourth in the last five games for Stanford. The Cardinal have now climbed back to a .500 conference record as they try to make an impactful impression for tournament season. After a four-game losing streak in which the Cardinal were visibly lacking offense, Stanford has posted its two highest point totals in back-to-back games since the start of Pac-12 play.
Senior forward Rosco Allen credits renewed ball movement for the team’s surging offense.
“We were just moving the ball really well,” he said. “Whoever was open, whoever had the best matchup was getting the ball in the right positions. When people are put in those spots, we’re a pretty efficient team.”
The reliable senior chipped in 19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in another solid performance. His rebounding was sound against an aggressive UCLA frontcourt that looked to crash the offensive glass in the second half.
On its hottest shooting night in recent memory, Stanford needed every basket to hold off UCLA’s capable three-guard lineup. For every Stanford run, junior guard Bryce Alford and sophomore guard Isaac Hamilton were able to pull the Bruins back within striking distance thanks to their shooting touch, as they combined to shoot 9-of-18 from downtown.
The Cardinal jumped out to an early lead behind a flurry of threes from unlikely sharpshooters. Senior center Grant Verhoeven, starting in his fifth consecutive game, hit his first 3-point attempt to put Stanford on the board. Freshman center Josh Sharma also drilled his triple, the first of his career, to spark a 13-2 Stanford run that would put the Cardinal up 22-11 at the 10-minute mark of the first half.
Alford, however, was able to stretch Stanford’s zone and get open looks for the Bruins. The junior sank four triples in the first half, while the crafty Hamilton attacked the rim to keep the UCLA deficit at one heading into halftime. The two combined for 23 of the Bruins’ 33 first-half points.
The Cardinal showed no signs of slowing down coming out of the locker room, going 17-of-24 from the field in the second half, as part of which Humphrey poured in 16 of his total points. Humphrey and Allen would hit big shot after big shot, including Allen’s triple with one minute remaining and two ticks on the shot clock, to finish their home sweep of the Los Angeles schools.
Stanford now travels to Arizona for its last two regular-season games, starting with Arizona State this Thursday at 8 p.m.
Contact Irving Rodriguez at irodriguez ‘at’ stanford.edu.