By Sally Egan
On Sunday, men’s basketball (11-1, 0-0 Pac-12) will take on No. 5 Kansas (9-2, Big 12) in its biggest matchup of the year. Stanford is off to its best start since 2008. If the Cardinal manage to pull off an upset, they will be 12-1 for the first time since 2003, which was the last time they were ranked No. 1 overall. In 2003, Stanford also beat Kansas, the top-ranked team at the time of the game.
Stanford’s good start comes from a balanced team with a deep bench, as nine players have played in at least 10 games. 12 players have seen action in at least nine games.
Junior forward Oscar da Silva leads the team with 17.6 points per game and six rebounds per game. He is supported by a young core led by freshman guard Tyrell Terry.
The presence of Terry and fellow freshman forward Spencer Jones has been the biggest change from last season. Terry is ranked second on the team with 15.6 points per game and 22 total steals, while Jones paces the team with 11 blocks and is third with 10.3 points per game. Junior guard Daejon Davis leads the team with 24 steals. It is a sign of Stanford’s depth that no single player leads the team in more than two major statistical categories.
Kansas is Stanford’s toughest opponent yet, but last year the Cardinal almost pulled off the upset with a much weaker team. Stanford took the then-No. 2 Jayhawks to overtime in Lawrence, Kansas, but ultimately fell 90-84. Davis had a strong game with 19 points, as did junior guard Isaac White, who had 15 points. Kansas lost two key players from its team last year, in Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson. However, the Jayhawks return the monster 7’0”, 270-pound Udoka Azubuike.
A mammoth of a player, Azubuike leads the Jayhawks with an insane 22 total blocks and 8.4 rebounds per game. The Cardinal will also have to look out for Marcus Garrett, who stole the ball four times against Stanford last year.
The Jayhawks didn’t think they had reason to worry about Stanford last year, but this time around they’ll likely be more wary of this up-and-coming Cardinal team. This should be the most exciting non-conference game at Maples in a long time, as Stanford looks to knock off a top-five opponent for the first time since 2007. Tip off is at noon PT.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.