Sports

Cardinal men looking for a solid Pac-12 basketball road trip

 

It's been a while since the Stanford men's basketball team has claimed a victory inside Pauley Pavilion. How long?

Johnny Dawkins was an assistant coach at Duke, with thoughts of the Cardinal not even a gleam in his eye. Mike Montgomery was coaching over in the East Bay with the Golden State Warriors.

It was Jan. 20, 2005 and George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term amid protests, "Million Dollar Baby" was just hitting theaters and Mario's "Let Me Love You" topped Billboard's chart.

Sixteen games into Trent Johnson's head coaching tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal carried a 2-3 conference record (8-7 overall) into Pauley Pavilion, where Stanford had won in its previous seven trips.

Dan Grunfeld scored 25 points in helping Stanford beat the Bruins, 75-64, to make it eight straight in Westwood. The Cardinal hasn't won there since and is 5-16 against the Bruins (the current seniors are 2-5) overall since then.

Stanford (2-0 in the Pac-12, 10-3 overall) can start to distance itself in the conference standings with a sweep of the Los Angeles schools. The Cardinal plays at UCLA (0-2, 8-7) on Thursday at 6 p.m. (ESPN) and at USC on Sunday at 7 p.m. (ESPNU).

The road has been a problem for the Cardinal this year, though a victory over then No. 9 Texas in its last game away from home looms large.

"I was pleased by the way we scheduled that last road trip," Stanford senior post Stefan Nastic said. "Beating Texas helped us as a reference point for us. We played in front of big crowds and we experienced that together."

Stanford brings a four-game winning streak to UCLA, which owns a 7-1 home record. The Bruins have lost a conference-worst five straight after winning their first four games and eight of 10 overall.

The Cardinal is one of three teams, with Utah and Colorado, which sit at 2-0 in Pac-12 play. Oregon and Arizona are at 1-0. With Washington State's upset at California, every team in the conference is at .500 or better entering the week.

Chasson Randle, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, ranks third in the conference in scoring at 18.8. The Bruins have two players, Bryce Alford (15.7) and Norman Powell (15.1) among the top nine.

Randle leads the conference in free throw percentage and Stanford is third as a team. UCLA is tied for 10th in free throw percentage and has the worst field goal percentage in the Pac-12.

Nastic and fellow senior Anthony Brown continue to improve their scoring and rebounding totals with the loss of freshman Reid Travis, currently out with a stress fracture in his upper left leg.

Nastic is scoring at a 14.2 pace and Brown is right behind at 14.1. Both players are averaging 6.8 rebounds.

Randle, who set the school's 3-point field goal record in Stanford's 68-60 overtime win against Washington on Sunday, had been limited in practice because of an illness that drained his stamina.

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