After opening the season with six consecutive home wins, men’s basketball (6-0, 0-0 Pac-12) is travelling to Kansas City, Missouri for the Hall of Fame Classic in the team’s first road trip of 2019-20. Stanford’s first test at the neutral-site Sprint Center comes on Monday with a game against Oklahoma (5-0, 0-0 Big-12) at 6:30 p.m. PT.
Stanford, which is off to its best start to a season since 2008, has been averaging 78.0 points per game while holding opponents to an average of 57.2 — evidence of the team’s focus on defense in the offseason and non-conference schedule. Over the course of the opening six games, the Cardinal have snagged 53 total steals, 31 of which have come from the combined efforts from just two of the 12 Stanford players: guards Tyrell Terry and Daejon Davis. The junior Davis heads into Monday’s matchup with 15 steals to his name and has established a reputation as something of a defensive menace in the Pac-12, as he finished his previous two seasons on the Farm with 39 and 40 steals, the seventh- and sixth-highest totals in the conference.
“[Daejon’s] effort on defense is … incomparable,” said sophomore forward Jaiden Delaire. “We notice that in practice. We’ve been noticing that really since I first got here. He sets the standard for all of us defensively.”
From an offensive perspective, Davis has been averaging 9.7 points per game, just under his 10.7 and 11.4 averages of years past. Yet the guard has had a hand in many of Stanford’s 166 total field goals. Second only to Terry’s 20, Davis has 19 assists on the season, an average of 3.2 per game. Aside from Davis’ individual talent and experience, Stanford’s team chemistry has resulted in the high offensive numbers, according to Terry.
“We all hang out with each other off the court, which makes it easier to reverse the ball and trust each other on the court,” the freshman said. “I think when we limit our turnovers, we get good shots and when we get good shots, it leads to assists.”
Good shots will be crucial against the Sooners, whose record, like Stanford’s, remains perfect heading to Kansas City. Oklahoma’s first five opponents of the season, including Pac-12 foe Oregon State, averaged 66.2 points per game against the Sooners.
With a win on Monday, the Cardinal would advance to the championship game Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. PT. Stanford would face the winner of Monday night’s contest between Butler and Missouri.
Contact Savana Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.