By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Dwight Powell hit the floor twice, and both times he looked as though he were seriously hurt. The junior forward just shrugged it off, saying he cramped up.
Stanford men's basketball coach Johnny Dawkins was the most relieved person inside Oracle Arena on Friday night. He's looking forward to few more games from Powell like the one he had in Stanford's 74-62 victory over USF in the season opener for both teams.
Powell scored a career-high 27 points before leaving for good with 1:35 left to play. He walked off under his own power and seemed to be moving freely afterward.
"I just didn't drink enough water and tried to get back in too soon," Powell said. "It feels good right now."
Hobbled by a variety of aches and pains last year, Powell never got into a rhythm last season. During the offseason he added about 15 pounds to his formerly fragile frame and feels a lot stronger. He's certainly playing stronger.
"I'd like to see a little more out of the players but as a coach you're always going to say that," Dawkins said. "He was terrific. He did a good job."
Powell was 9 of 14 from the field, hit both of his 3-point attempts, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot for good measure.
"Last year he played a secondary role for them," USF coach Rex Walters said. "They need a post presence with their guards and he can be a matchup problem for a lot of people."
Powell scored seven of Stanford's first 14 points of the second half to help open a double-digit lead, which the Cardinal held the rest of the way.
Stanford all but let a 14-point first-half lead slip away and needed a last second shot from Chasson Randle to take a 32-31 edge into halftime.
"I like that we were very unselfish," Dawkins said. "I thought our shot selection for the most part was good."
Josh Huestis, who also stepped into a starting role (and added 10 pounds himself), added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Stanford hosts Cal State Fullerton at 8:30 p.m. Monday night in a nonconference game.