The Stanford men's basketball team already secured a pretty good road win in Pac-12 Conference play. The Cardinal added another solid home victory to its resume on Thursday night.
Rosco Allen and Marcus Allen each recorded a double-double and Stanford beat visiting California, considered one of the top title contenders, 77-71, to move ahead of the Golden Bears in the conference standings.
It's still early but things are looking good for the Cardinal (10-6, 3-2 Pac-12), which was banished to the lower depths of the Pac-12 by both coaches and the media in preseason predictions.
If there's anything to discern from the first few games of conference play, it's that come game time, there's no such thing as a clear favorite.
Stanford, picked to finish ninth, stands alone in fourth place, a half-game ahead of No. 18 Arizona, which visits Maples Pavilion next Thursday night. The Wildcats were picked to win the conference.
Thanks to the victory over Cal, the Cardinal no longer has the worst overall record in the conference. That belongs to Washington State, which is currently 9-7 overall.
"Our conference is just so good this year," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "Every team is good and every game is going to come down to the end and be a nail-biter."
The Allens (no relation) became the first pair of Stanford players to record a double-double in the same game in nearly two years. They combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds and still left room for a couple of other teammates to record double figure figures in scoring. Rosco Allen led the way with 22 points and 10 boards.
Sophomore Dorian Pickens had 14 points, the 10th time he's reached double digits this season, and freshman Marcus Sheffield added 11, the third double-figure scoring game in his past six contests.
The teams traded leads, or were tied, throughout the first 30 minutes or so. The Bears took a 51-49 advantage with 11:17 remaining to play but the Cardinal scored the next nine points and never trailed again, though it was hardly secure.
Stanford was holding onto a four-point edge in the final 30 seconds when Michael Humphrey came up with a huge block of Tyrone Wallace's inside shot, with 20 seconds left.
The Bears maintained possession but instead of going inside, Wallace tried a 3-pointer that ended up in the hands of Rosco Allen, who was fouled. He made both of his free throws.
Marcus Allen, who was 12-of-16 from the foul line, iced the game with a pair of free throws with six ticks left. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the final 5:16.
"Marcus is growing right before our eyes," Dawkins said. "I thought during that stretch, he really gave us a spark."
Allen said it was a short chat with the coach that helped maintain focus in the second half.
"I went into halftime and coach Dawkins pulled me to the side and he just kept me confident," Allen said. "He said, 'You can attack these guys. You can get by them on your first step.' And I listened to him."
The win marked the 100th at Maples Pavilion for Dawkins, who recently celebrated his 150th career coaching win.
Stanford jumped to an early lead, shook off a scoring drought midway through the first half, and then closed on a 20-8 run to take a 41-35 halftime lead.
Sheffield led the rally with nine points, including a layup in traffic with eight seconds remaining.