Stanford fell because shots did not. Fans in Maples Pavilion witnessed the Cardinal’s worst first-half shooting of the year as only five of Stanford’s 23 shots found their way to the basket. Taking advantage of Stanford’s struggles, the No. 5 Jayhawks (10-2, 0-0 Big 12) secured an early lead and soared to a 72-56 victory over the Card on Sunday.
“I don’t think that was our best effort, especially on the offensive end in the first half,” said Stanford head coach Jerod Haase of the team’s rocky start. “We’re very aware… that when we start getting close to 20 turnovers, we’re not going to be the team we want to be.”
A far cry from last year’s matchup between the teams, when Stanford pushed then-No.2 Kansas to overtime on the Jayhawks’ home court before ultimately falling 90-84, the Big 12 foe found momentum — and a lead — just 30 seconds into play thanks to a 3-pointer from Ochai Agbaji.
For the next seven minutes, only Kansas added to the scoreboard, stretching its lead to 11-0 before Stanford was able to shut down the run. A foul on the Jawhawks’ Silvio de Sousa sent junior Oscar da Silva to the line, where he sank two in a row to cut the margin to single digits and start his journey to the top of Stanford’s offensive stats sheet once again.
A 6′ 9″ forward, da Silva has led the Cardinal in scoring in six of the team’s 13 games this season and averaged 17.6 points per game heading into Sunday’s game, making his 19-point performance against the Jayhawks a surprise to none. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, da Silva was joined in the realm of double-digit offense only by freshman guard Tyrell Terry, who finished with ten to his name. Last year, Stanford had four players post 10 or more points against the Jayhawks with a team-high 22 coming from then-sophomore KZ Okpala, who later declared for the 2019 NBA draft.
Junior guard Isaac White was able to sink the first Cardinal field goal with just over eight minutes left before the half, but it did little to shift the momentum that Kansas had already acquired.
Though the Jayhawks’ 37.5% first half field goal percentage was not representative of a team that was No. 1 just a week ago, their dominance on the defensive end combined with Stanford’s subpar shooting proved the perfect fuel for 16 defensive boards and five points off Cardinal turnovers before the buzzer sounded at the half. The Jayhawks’ pushed their score to 20, while holding the Cardinal to a mere 4 until only six minutes of action left remained before the break. Sophomore forward Lukas Kisunas netted two from the foul line to bring some life to Stanford’s offense, yet the home team was unable to fully recover from the 11-point hole dug at the beginning of the game and headed to the locker room down 28-18.
“I thought our guys handled some of the adversity really well,” Haase said. “We just could not get it rolling on the offensive end and… coupled with the rebounding margin, I think that is what led to the final score.”
Kansas out-rebounded Stanford 44-25, with the -19 margin by far the worst of the season. Though the Jayhwaks committed two more turnovers than the Cardinal, 21-19, the eight from da Silva alone were demoralizing.
Less than a minute into the second half, Kansas’ Marcus Garrett and Devon Dotson each tallied a layup to shut down what had briefly seemed like a Cardinal comeback. From there, Kansas never looked back, shooting 15-of-26 from the field and 6-of-8 from behind the arc en route to its 16-point rout.
“I do believe we have more in our tank offensively,” the former Jayhawk Haase said in response to the defeat, which was the team’s first home loss of the 2019-20 season.
“I think we can be a little bit stronger with the basketball and have better decisions and until we get to that point, I do not think we’re going to be an offensive juggernaut,” Haase said. “But… I think we have really good offensive players, and I think once we figure that out and crack that code to reduce our turnovers, I think we’re going to be a really efficient offensive team.”
On the flight back to Lawrence, one of the engines failed. Luckily, the plane carrying the Kansas team was able to safely land in San Jose and all those onboard were reported safe.
Offensive efficiency will be crucial as Stanford transitions into conference play, with California being the first Pac-12 opponent on the Cardinal’s agenda. Tip off against the Golden Bears is set for 8 p.m. Thursday inside of Maples Pavilion.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.