Stanford in need
of some road wins
The Stanford men's basketball team has its problems when playing outside the Bay Area, as evidenced by its 1-4 mark when playing out of state.
That will need to change if the Cardinal (7-4) wants to reach the NCAA tournament this season. It gets another chance Friday when Stanford visits Northwestern for a nonconference affair at 6 p.m.
It will be Stanford's final nonconference game on the road before returning home to host Lafayette after Christmas and opening the Pac-12 conference schedule following the holidays.
The latest setback, an 88-79 decision to host North Carolina State on Tuesday, had its moments. Dwight Powell continued his exceptional season with yet another outstanding game and guard Aaron Bright produced his best game offensively.
The Cardinal must get steady production from everybody, though, to succeed away from home. Stanford is 5-1 in Maples Pavilion and 6-1 when playing in the Bay Area.
"We grew a lot in a tough atmosphere," Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said. "This was a true road game against a strong opponent and we played well. I can't fault our kids for the outcome. We were playing hard, getting after it. That's all you can ask for."
Especially from Bright, who was 6 of 9 from the field and matched his season high with 16 points. He was also 4 of 7 from 3-point range, a particular sore spot for him entering game against the Wolfpack.
Bright, who sat out four games with a sprained ankle, missed his first 13 long-range attempts and was 3 for 21 overall before his effort against North Carolina State.
Chasson Randle, who was 5 of 15 from the field Tuesday, could be playing in front of a friendly crowd in Evanston. Randle hails from Rock Island, Ill.
The combination of Randle and Bright gave Stanford a potent offensive threat last year that has just not shown up yet this season. Things could be changing though, thanks to Bright's satisfying game Tuesday.
What hasn't changed much this season is the consistency by which Powell has played this year. He played on a bad foot last year and was never able to reach the potential he showed as a freshman.
This year, it's been an 180-degree turnaround for the junior from Toronto, and being healthy has everything to do with it.
"I'm excited about Powell's growth," Dawkins said. "He's showing us that he's capable of helping this team in a number of ways. We need him to stay out of foul trouble though."
Powell fouled out of Tuesday night's game and sat for nearly 18 minutes of the first half in Saturday's 75-52 home victory over UC Davis.
Even foul trouble hasn't slowed him down lately as he recorded his fourth 20-plus point game of the past five and fifth overall.
Powell didn't average better than eight points in either of his first two seasons. His career high entering the season was 20 points and he didn't score more than 18 in a game last year.
He opened the year with 27 points against San Francisco, had 29 against Denver before reaching the 20-point mark for the third straight game against the Wolfpack.
Powell is now averaging 15.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 54.6 percent from the field.
"I'm just trying to do whatever I need to do to help my team," Powell said. "Whatever the situation I'm in, I'm just trying to help contribute to getting Ws. I've got to step it up, obviously, because we didn't get the W."
Powell and Josh Huestis, who celebrated a birthday Wednesday, can be to the post what Bright and Randle were to the backcourt last year.
The loss of Josh Owens and Jack Trotter to graduation has had an effect on the post play, though both Powell and Huestis appear to be stepping up their level of play.
The combination of Stefan Nastic, John Gage and Andy Brown could help solidify play under the basket.
Stanford, which prides itself on defense, allowed its highest point total of the season and never led against the Wolfpack.
Stanford was searching for its first win over a top-25 team since knocking off No. 17 Washington, 58-56, in January of 2011.