Dorian Pickens has had some of his best games of the season when he comes off the bench for the Stanford men's basketball team.
He likes to think it doesn't matter and maybe it doesn't, though it seems otherwise. His top two scoring games and his only double-double came in games where he came off the bench.
Pickens scored 22 of his career-high 25 points in the first half and Stanford won for the third time in four games, beating visiting USC, 84-64, in an important Pac-12 Conference contest Thursday.
"I just got it going," Pickens said. "I wanted to come out aggressively. It makes no difference to me mentally. I just happened to be on the bench at tip-off."
The Cardinal (14-12, 7-8 Pac-12) still has a chance to finish fifth in one of the most competitive conferences in the country. Stanford has to continue winning, though, and consistency, until the past four games, has not been its strong point.
Stanford can change all that Saturday, when UCLA, a 75-63 loser at Cal, comes to Maples Pavilion for a 1:30 p.m. matinee.
"Any time you can finish above .500 in a league like this, it's a positive thing," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We're looking to sustain it one game at a time."
Rosco Allen scored all 17 of his points in the second half and Michael Humphrey added 10, also all in the second half, for the Cardinal. Marcus Allen netted 15.
Pickens averages 13.8 points in nine games off the bench and 10.9 in games he starts. His previous career best was against Texas, also coming off the bench. His only career double-double, against Villanova, occurred coming off the bench.
"I call him Dorian the Laser because he's always on point," said Cardinal guard Marcus Allen, who scored 15 points. "I see it all the time and it's nice to see him put it all together in a game."
Pickens came off the bench a fourth consecutive game after 12 starts. He's averaging 16 points during that stretch.
"He's done a good job for us coming in," Dawkins said. "Dorian really picked us up."
The Trojans held an early 14-11 advantage following Reinhardt's jumper. Stanford responded with a 29-6 run to open a 20-point advantage.
Pickens hit four 3-pointers during the run, all in a span of 2 minutes, 26 minutes. He was 8 of 10 from the field, including 5 of 7 from long range. He also matched Humphrey for the team lead in rebounds with six.
"He's a terrific shooter, shot the ball at a high level," USC coach Andy Enright said. "That's hard to do with no one in the gym with you. He did it coming off screens, with guys in the his face, and he played an excellent game."
The Cardinal led at halftime, 43-25, the Trojans worst half of the season.
"We focused on defense and locking them down," Marcus Allen said. "We always have a goal of how many points we want to hold other teams to and we came close to that."
Pickens entered play with the largest increase in scoring average among returning Pac-12 players at a plus 9.4. He averaged 2.0 points as a freshman and was at 11.4 before Thursday.
Rosco Allen, the Cardinal's leading scorer, ranks third in that category with a plus 8.3, going to 15.6 from 7.3.