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Men’s basketball takes a road trip to North Carolina

Cardinal to take on UNC Wilmington and the UNC Tarheels over the course of three days.

Sophomore forward Kezie Okpala (above) is looking to have a breakout season in his second year with the Cardinal. He recorded a career high 29 points to go along with 10 boards and five assists in the win on Tuesday. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

The Stanford men’s basketball team (1-0) will leave the sun-filled, 75-degree November days of Palo Alto to spend the upcoming weekend in North Carolina. They will play against the University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks (0-1) on Friday at 4 p.m. PST, before duking it out on Monday with the No. 8-ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0).

Stanford is coming off a dazzling 96-74 season-opening win against the Seattle Redhawks (0-1) on Tuesday, where sophomore forward KZ Okpala put on a clinic at Maples Pavillion with a career high 29 points to go with 10 boards and five assists. Freshman guard Cormac Ryan also came out hot from beyond the arc in his debut with the Cardinal, nailing five three-pointers in six attempts to net him 15 points. Sophomore point guard Daejon Davis was in double figures as well, putting up 15 points and four assists.

Though Seattle was able to keep the game close in the first half, the Cardinal came out with better execution and pacing after the break, outscoring the Redhawks 56-38 in the second half.

UNCW did not fare as well in their opener, falling 97-93 in overtime against the Campbell Fighting Camels. The nail-biter featured 20 lead changes and a regulation buzzer-beater three from Seahawks guard Ty Taylor to force overtime. However, Campbell’s guard Chris Clemons proved too much for the Seahawks to handle, shooting 50 percent from the floor for 44 points, 15 of which were in overtime, giving the Fighting Camels the win.

Win or lose against the Seahawks, the Cardinal have a big Monday ahead of them, stepping into the house of six-time NCAA champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Like Stanford, North Carolina also claimed a victory in their home opener, winning 78-67 against the Wofford Terriers. The Tar Heels had three players in double digits, including forward Luke Maye (24), guard Cameron Johnson (17), and forward Garrison Brooks (20).

The game will be a definite test for the Cardinal, as the young core seeks to make their stand against their first nationally ranked opponent this season.

Following the weekend road trip, Stanford returns to Maples Pavilion next Friday to play the Wofford Terriers themselves at 7 p.m. EST.

 

Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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