In the second and third games of conference play, Stanford men’s basketball (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) aims to defend its home court against visiting Washington (11-4, 1-1 Pac-12) on Thursday and Washington State (10-5, 1-1 Pac-12) on Saturday. Alongside Arizona (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12), Stanford remains undefeated in the Pac-12 after opening the new year and conference play with a 68-52 defeat of Cal on Jan. 2.
The final score of the Cardinal’s victory over the Golden Bears, however, hardly reveals the shooting struggles Stanford has faced in recent contests. In the first 10 games of the 2019-20 season, the Cardinal made nearly 56% of shots the field on average, even considering a scary 38.5% success rate against Oklahoma in a neutral-site battle during the Hall of Fame Classic. In the past four games, however, shots from Stanford have done anything but fall. Against USF, USD, No. 3 Kansas and rival Cal, the Cardinal only sank 90 of 205 total attempts to earn a 43.9% average since Dec. 17.
The worst of the offensive obstacles presented itself in what many anticipated would be the most thrilling game of Stanford’s non-conference play: a Dec. 29 home test against then-No.5 Kansas. Entering the game, Stanford had only one loss to its name — the least in the Pac-12 at the time — and boasted 11 wins in its best start to the season since 2008. None of that was apparent, as the Cardinal opened the game shooting 0-for-14 and remained scoreless until nearly eight minutes into play en route to a 21.7% half-time field goal percentage. Stanford’s success from behind the arc was even scarcer in the opening 20 minutes; the Cardinal collected points on just one of nine attempts from deep.
A similar trend was witnessed by fans in Maples when the Golden Bears visited the Farm just four days later. Only two of the Cardinal’s first 12 shots found their way to the hoop before a jumper from junior guard Daejon Davis sparked a change in Stanford’s shooting fortune: the Cardinal sank 11 of their next 19 attempts to charge their way to an 11-point lead at halftime.
With that being said, starting slow will not be an option for the Cardinal if a win is to be earned over Washington. The Huskies have limited the success of opponents — which have included then-No. 9 Gonzaga and then-No. 16 Baylor — to just under 37% from the field. Baylor’s only loss of the season came from the unranked Huskies during the Armed Forces Classic in November.
Fortunately for the Cardinal, the Cougars have been less adept at preventing successful shots from opponents. Washington State foes have averaged 42.9% over the course of 15 games.
Pac-12 basketball action between Stanford and Washington tips off at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday at Maples Pavilion. After a quick turnaround, the Cardinal take on the Cougars on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.