Another loss on the road, another subpar offensive performance for the Cardinal.
Stanford men’s basketball (13-13, 7-6 Pac-12) has now lost five of its last seven games with its 64-56 defeat to Colorado (15-10, 7-6) in Boulder on Sunday afternoon.
On the road, the Cardinal have set an awful trend of getting behind big in the first half and then having to mount a comeback late in the second half.
Against Colorado, Utah, UCLA, USC and Washington State away from Maples, Stanford trailed by at least seven points at halftime. The only victory was against the Cougars.
A large reason for the failures in the first half is the offensive malaise with which the team started those games. In the previous matchup against the Utes, Stanford shot 30.8 percent from the field in the first. Then, against Colorado, the team started even worse, shooting 29.2 percent from the field.
Senior forward Reid Travis, who leads the team in scoring, has failed to score more than 16 points in the last four road games, including the game against the Buffaloes in which he scored only 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
The other players on the team were in a similar boat. Guards senior Dorian Pickens (18 points) and Daejon Davis (12 points), the two leading scorers for the Cardinal, combined to shoot 10-of-31 from the field. This is an unacceptable shooting performance from the team’s best players, especially on the road.
What makes this trend of poor shooting particularly frustrating for the Cardinal is how it negates their stout play on defense. The Buffaloes shoot 44.3 percent from the field in conference play, but the Cardinal limited them to 37.1 percent shooting, including holding them to 33.3 percent in the first half.
Defense can win championships, but even the best defenses cannot overcome a bad offensive performance and a large amount of turnovers.
The Cardinal had 14 turnovers in the game, which is barely over their season average, but they committed 10 turnovers alone in the first half. The carelessness with the ball, and the Buffaloes defensive pressure, gave Colorado an early double-digit lead despite Stanford’s solid defense.
The forwards for Colorado, Tyler Bay and Lucas Siewert, did a tremendous job on offense and defense. Bay held his own against Travis, limiting him to 40 percent shooting and only scoring one fewer point than Travis on better efficiency.
Siewert, who came off the bench, was the kind of offensive spark the Cardinal desperately needed, but unfortunately for them, the Buffaloes got it instead. Siewert scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and made four threes.
Stanford was close early in the game when Pickens’ layup cut Colorado’s lead to 15-13. The Buffaloes would go on a 16-7 run to end the half, punctuated by four straight made three pointers.
The Cardinal would chip into the lead starting in the second half but key rebounds gave the Buffaloes more chances to score. The rebounds kept Stanford from controlling the game.
Davis’ layup cut the lead to one with 5:47 remaining, but that would be the closest the Cardinal would get at a victory as Siewert scored eight consecutive points to pull Colorado ahead.
Stanford will have one week to amend its road offensive issues until it travels to Cal (8-18, 2-11) on Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. PST. The game will be broadcast by ESPNU.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.