By Stephen Ren
The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team (3-3) hosts the Portland State Vikings (3-2) at Maples Pavillion this Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST. This is the first home game for the Cardinal since their season opener against Seattle (6-2) on November 6.
Stanford is coming off a tough Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas last week over Thanksgiving break, losing to the No. 25 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (6-0) and the Florida Gators (4-3) before picking up a win against Middle Tennessee (1-4) on Friday.
Contrary to what the final 62-46 score against Wisconsin would suggest, the game was kept close until the final minutes of the second half. The Cardinal pulled within two points of the Badgers with six minutes remaining in the contest. However, in some inexplicable fashion, Stanford’s offense and defense utterly collapsed after that point, allowing a hot shooting Badger squad to outscore them 18-4. Stanford could not buy itself a single field goal in the same time period.
Stanford came out even colder in its following match against Florida, shooting just 21 percent from the field in the first half and could not recover from a 19-point deficit. Freshman guard Cormac Ryan led the team in scoring, recording 12 points on four three-pointers.
Life returned to the Cardinal against Middle Tennessee on the final day of the tournament. Sophomore KZ Okpala put up 22 points despite getting into early foul trouble, shooting 50 percent along the way. Stanford showcased its defensive presence in that game, forcing 22 turnovers from Middle Tennessee.
Portland State is coming off a 91-75 win against Northwest Nazarene (5-1) Saturday, in which they capitalized on Nighthawks’ 20 percent first half shooting slump. Stanford is 2-1 against Portland State all time, losing its most recent matchup with the Vikings 87-78 in the PK80 Invitational last year.
Looking ahead, Stanford ventures off to Kansas in what should be an noteworthy matchup against the currently No. 2 ranked, 5-0 Jayhawks on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PST.
Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu