Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 1, 2013

Stanford back in the game

Cardinal gains momentum by handing Oregon its first Pac-12 loss

by Rick Eymer

When the Stanford men's basketball team takes the court against visiting Oregon State on Sunday, the Cardinal players will bring a new swagger with them.

That's what happens when you knock the tough kid of the block off his perch. The Cardinal played its most complete game of the season in a contest it sorely needed to grab new life for the remainder of the Pac-12 Conference.

Following its best road win of the season, Stanford beat No. 10 Oregon, 76-52, Wednesday night at home. The Ducks (7-1, 18-3) remain the kingpins of the Pac-12, but they're a little bit dizzy after getting shaken.

"It definitely ranks up there as one of the better moments for our program," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "That's the type of team we thought we might have at the beginning of the season. And we're still developing into becoming the team we want to become."

Stanford (4-4 in the Pac-12, 13-8 overall) asserted itself in every facet of the game, leaving nothing to second guess themselves.

The Cardinal recorded its first victory over a top 10 team in almost five years thanks in large part to the efforts of Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, who dominated the paint against one of the conference's top rebounding teams.

"They helped us with their board play," Dawkins said. "They blocked shots and were a bundle of activity inside."

Huestis scored 14 points, on 6-of-9 shooting, and had 13 rebounds. Powell added 12 points and 13 rebounds. Both received on-air praise from ESPNU broadcaster Bill Walton, who knows a thing or two about rebounding and playing with desire.

"Really, we just wanted to be as intense and aggressive as possible," Powell said. "We wanted to help each other out and be be prepared for the type of screens they set. It just came down to the mindset of digging in and doing what it takes."

Chasson Randle scored a game-high 17 points and Aaron Bright had 12 as Stanford built a 25-point lead early in the second half.

The Cardinal shot 52 percent to Oregon's 35 and made twice as many 3-pointers (eight) in fewer attempts.

The last time Stanford beat a ranked opponent was just over two years, when it edged Washington, 58-56, in Maples Pavilion.

The Cardinal last beat a top 10 team nearly five years ago to the day (Feb. 2, 2008) when it upset Washington State, 67-65, in overtime.

"You can't forget the formula for success," Dawkins said. "It's about continuing to improve."

Even though there was a large discrepancy between the team's ranking and records, Oregon was a three-point underdog entering the contest.

"Someone told me that but I didn't think twice about it," Dawkins said. "That's not for us to decide. We're more interested in playing the game well."

Stanford beat host Utah, 87-57, on Sunday for its most lopsided conference win in nine years and then came back with its largest margin at home in a conference game.

"I hope we can look at this game and see the things we did well," Randle said. "Even the things we can improve on. This can be motivation to play the same way every time out."

Stanford's noon game with the Beavers (1-6, 11-9) on Sunday in another Pac-12 game with consequences. The Cardinal finds itself in a little better shape going into the weekend. A tie for sixth place, with Colorado no less, sounds a lot better than 10th place.

"If we continue to grow as a team we can be very competitive," Dawkins said. "We're seeing the ball go in and when you defend, it gives you a little more life offensively."

Oregon State's season has been similar to Stanford. The Beavers expected to be better than they were a year ago and have yet to play up to their potential.

Like Stanford, the Beavers have the talent to beat good teams. The Cardinal can ill afford a letdown.

Oregon took an early 6-2 lead but that was before Randle, Powell, Bright and John Gage each hit a 3-pointer during an 18-2 run that sparked the crowd and the team.

The Ducks missed their first six shots from beyond the arc and committed 20 turnovers, including three just before halftime that allowed Stanford to carry a double-digit advantage into the locker room. Anthony Brown made it 35-22 with a tough hook shot.

After E.J. Singler's 3-pointer cut the Cardinal lead to 10, the Ducks never got closer. Powell started a three-point play with a layup over Singler, then made a runner and another from beyond the arc as the Cardinal gained control for good.

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