Senior forward Reid Travis had been a bit dormant for a few games, but on Thursday against Washington (18-10, 8-7), Travis erupted for a career-high 33 points to elevate Stanford men’s basketball (15-13, 9-6) to a dominant 94-78 victory in Maples Pavilion.
With the win, the Cardinal are half a game behind UCLA and Utah, who are tied for the third seed in the Pac-12.
Getting a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament is critical, given how much of a mess the conference is, especially with the second leading scorer in the Pac-12, Arizona’s Allonzo Trier, now ruled ineligible for the rest of the year.
Stanford took a step in the right direction, thanks in large part to its veteran leader in Travis. On top of scoring a career high, Travis added nine rebounds and shot 11-of-17 from the field. He dominated from tip-off, scoring 23 points in the first half.
Travis’ previous career-high was 29 points.
“You saw a beast in there,” senior guard Dorian Pickens praised Travis. “Every time he got the ball in the high post, he was able to get to the cup, find teammates, finish plays strong and really get us going offensively.”
“He’s the real deal,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase added. “He’s as good as there is in the country at finishing through contact.”
Joining Travis in productive output were the other two Peter Sauer captains, Pickens and forward Michael Humphrey.
Pickens’ three-point makes were back-breaking for a Huskies team looking to make a comeback all night. Pickens scored 20 points with 15 coming from beyond the arc. He rounded out his stats with six rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Before fouling out, Humphrey dropped 15 points, and he really helped break down the Huskies two-three zone defense by flashing to the holes in the defensive scheme.
Aside from Travis, freshman guard KZ Okpala had one of the more impressive first halves of any player in the conference. He scored six points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out four assists, blocked four shots and had two steals in the first half.
A 5×5 is an incredibly rare achievement, but almost getting one in the first half is just plain absurd. Okpala almost did and flashed some downright suffocating defense, outshining possible Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Huskies guard Matisse Thybulle.
“[Okpala’s] still figuring it out, and [he’s flashed] some real positives guarding the basketball,” Coach Haase said. “Four blocked shots shows how long he is and how good he can be guarding the basketball. At times his passing is just off the charts. The number one thing he is lacking right now is experience.”
Okpala would only score two more points the rest of the game, but his impact disrupted Washington’s offense.
Freshman guard Daejon Davis, who was originally committed to the Huskies last season, had a steady performance. Davis scored four points and assisted two shots, but he had only one turnover, so he wasn’t forcing the issue, especially when Washington pressed.
Davis didn’t start the second half and was still in the locker room, but he came back in with 12 minutes remaining and finished the game.
“He got poked in his eye, and then the trainers were looking at him and evaluating him,” Coach Haase said.
Fellow freshman, forward Oscar Da Silva, again was a positive for the Cardinal, adding 14 points and seven rebounds on five-of-eight shooting.
Stanford did a great job attacking, earning 47 free throws, but some of that played right into the hands of the Huskies as the Cardinal only made 27 free throws.
Additionally, the opponent’s press continues to rattle the Cardinal at times as Stanford accumulated 16 turnovers.
The Cardinal will have a chance to sweep the Washington schools on Senior Day when Washington State (10-16, 2-12) comes to Maples this Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
“It’s going to be a special day,” Pickens said of Senior Day. “We are just really focused on trying to get the win.”
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.