By Jose Saldana
The Phil Knight Invitational (PK80) might have been a grand achievement for college basketball and all the teams involved, but it certainly wasn’t for the ailing Cardinal.
Stanford men’s basketball (3-5) went winless in three games against No. 7 Florida, Ohio State and Portland State in the PK80 in Portland, which started on Nov. 23 and ended on Nov. 26.
The major themes of the holiday tournament for Stanford were bad three-point defense and turnovers. The Cardinal allowed their opponents to shoot 47.8 percent from three and averaged 19.7 turnovers per game, including 28 against Portland State.
Senior guard Dorian Pickens and junior guard Marcus Sheffield didn’t play in the invitational due to leg injuries which will keep them out for a while.
Coming off a loss to defending national champion North Carolina, the Cardinal had hardly anytime to recuperate before facing another tough opponent in the first game of the PK80. The Gators, led by sharpshooters Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson, looked more like the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets with their three-point prowess.
They shot a combined 15-of-22 (68.2 percent) on three-point shots in the 108-87 victory over Stanford. The incredibly hot shooting from the Gators outshone a relatively good offensive night for the Cardinal.
Stanford made 54 percent of its field goals, made 26 free throws and outrebounded Florida 28 to 27, but the defense could not quell the firepower of the Gators.
Senior forward Reid Travis had 23 points and five rebounds while senior guard Robert Cartwright added 17 points off the bench for the Cardinal.
Nothing more can be said of this game other than that Florida was having one of those games where the basket was as wide as the court and Stanford needed better perimeter defense to force the Gators to put the ball on the floor and drive.
By losing to the Gators, the Cardinal got the opportunity to play Ohio State, who lost to No. 17 Gonzaga in the first round of the tournament. Stanford put up a much better all-around effort against the Buckeyes but still lost 79-71.
The Cardinal went into halftime tied with Ohio State at 32 a piece on the strength of freshman forward Oscar Da Silva, who had eight points in the first half, and senior center Michael Humphrey, who had a near double-double with seven points and eight rebounds.
The Buckeyes began to take over the game after the break as Stanford shot 1-10 on three-point shots and missed seven free throws in the second half. Travis, Humphrey and freshman guard Daejon Davis all fouled out of the game as the Cardinal had to play the foul game in order to have a chance at a win.
Stanford allowed Ohio State to make 9-of-21 on three-point shots which has been a major negative trend in the Cardinal’s season so far.
Ohio State made its free throws and relegated Stanford to the seventh-place game to play Portland State.
At face value, this would be the easiest opponent the Cardinal would have faced, but the Vikings didn’t get that memo. Portland State defeated Stanford 87-78 in the final game of the tournament.
The Cardinal led the Vikings 44-35 first half as Travis put up 15 in the first period. The lead could have been bigger for Stanford but the team allowed Portland State to grab 12 offensive rebounds to keep the score close.
But in the second half, the wheels fell off for the Cardinal.
The Vikings’ full court press and defensive pressure caused Stanford to turn the ball over 15 times in the second half and 28 for the game. The turnovers gave Portland State easy opportunities for baskets and trips to the free throw line. Davis alone had 11 of the Cardinal turnovers.
Although the Cardinal held Portland State to one made three in the first half, the Vikings shot 7-of-15 from long range in the second half.
The tournament was a let down for the Cardinal who were hoping to come in and make some noise against the better teams in the nation.
The Cardinal will have a quick reprieve as they host Montana on Wednesday at 7 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion. The game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.