Stanford defeats Pac-12’s #1 UCLA 107-99 in double OT

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

The Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball team (now 7-8) kicked off 2018 with a match against the visiting UCLA Bruins, who went into the match 11-3 (first place in the Pac-12 Conference).

After UCLA took the lead for the first part of the game, Dorian Pickens tied the score 22-22 (with a three-pointer) with six minutes left in the first half, as the shot clock reached zero. Travis then got a layup and a free throw to give the Cardinal the lead once again (25-24), and Dorian Pickens got another three-pointer just after the Bruins’ Jaylen Hands got a jumper, and the Cardinal trailed by only one point.

For the remaining minutes of the match, the Bruins managed to re-tie the score each time the Cardinal took a lead. After Hands’ basket, Michael Humphrey shot for Stanford, then 30 seconds later, UCLA’s Gyorgy Goloman made a three-pointer and tied the score 30-30. Oscar da Silva got a layup, but Aaron Holiday (who leads UCLA in points per game) made both free throws and gave the Bruins a 34-32 lead.

Then, it was Stanford who had to catch up. Kris Wilkes got a layup for UCLA to give them a 36-32 lead. It took two layups from Okpala to tie the score again (36-36). The Bruins clearly weren’t having it, determined to keep their lead. Prince Ali (not to be mistaken with the Disney character Aladdin’s alter ego) got a three-pointer and a layup within 30 seconds of one another. The Bruins led the Cardinal 41-36 at halftime.

The Cardinal, moved to make a comeback against the conference’s first-place team, inch their way up on the scoreboard each time the Bruins took a lead, which the latter team managed to keep. Shots alternated between both teams, beginning with Travis, then UCLA’s Thomas Welsh, a three-pointer from Stanford’s Daejon Davis, two free throws from Holiday, another three-pointer by Pickens, then one from Holiday, a layup from Okpala, and two completed free throws from Holiday which put the Bruins four points ahead at 50-46.

After a time-out just before the five-minute mark, Pickens got his fourth three-pointer of the night, bringing the Cardinal down by only one point. Despite a consistent number of baskets  for the Cardinal at the 30-minute mark of the match (10 minutes into the second period), they remained inferior to the Bruins, who were up by 10 at that point (71-61).

UCLA increased their double-digit lead as soon as Goloman got a three-pointer, and they stayed ahead even after Okpala made two free throws (the Cardinal trailed 74-63). Davis cut Stanford’s trail to single digits (after making a layup and a free throw, and after a dunk from Travis right after Holiday’s layup. Though Ali made a three-pointer and gave the Bruins a 12-point lead, Humphrey got a three pointer followed by a dunk, and the Cardial only trailed by seven, then only by five when Pickens got a layup with four minutes left in the game.

After a free throw from UCLA’s Alex Olesinski and two from Davis, Stanford trailed only by four. Wilkes was fouled for the Bruins, giving Davis two free throw opportunities. He made only one, after which the Cardinal were only a three-pointer away from tying the Bruins.

Da Silva got a layup assisted by Pickens with 46 seconds left in the game, and then the Cardinal were only a basket away from exceeding the Bruins. However, a layup from Holiday allowed the Bruins to keep their lead. Humphrey was fouled with 18 seconds left, but Ali missed both free throws for UCLA. Miraculously, Pickens got another three-pointer, his fifth of the night, with six seconds left to tie the score 85-85.

In overtime, Humphrey made two free throws to give the Cardinal their first lead since the opening minutes of the first half, but the Bruins quickly came back when Thomas Welsh made a layup and a free throw. Davis got a layup and gave Stanford a one-point lead (89-88), but after Goloman made a free throw, the score was tied again, and then the Bruins regained their lead after a jumper from Holiday (91-89).

Okpala tied the score with two and a half minutes left (91-91), and then it was up to the Cardinal’s defense to ensure the Bruins would not surpass them yet again, which they managed to do. And then, with only half a minute left, da Silva dunked and gave the Cardinal the lead. After a successful free throw from Okpala, they were ahead 94-91 until Holiday made a buzzer-beating three-pointer. The score was tied once again (94-94), sending the match into a second overtime period.

It was all defense for the Cardinal as the Bruins had possession of the ball when the second OT period began. Okpala was fouled, and then Ali made two free throws to give the Bruins a two point lead. Josh Sharma got a layup for the Cardinal and tied the score 96-96, but then he was fouled. Ali made one free throw and the Bruins were only one point ahead. There was hope for the Cardinal, until Sharma was fouled again, giving Ali two more free throw opportunities. He made both, and the Bruins led the Cardinal 99-96.

Pickens made two free throws after Holiday was fouled, cutting the Bruins’ lead to only one point. Sharma was fouled again for Stanford, after which Hands failed to make both free throw opportunities. Goloman was fouled for UCLA, giving Isaac white two free throw opportunities, which he missed. Pickens made his sixth free throw of the evening, and the Cardinal were in the lead again (101-99).

Davis saved the day (or, rather, the evening) when he got a layup with half a minute remaining to give the Cardinal a four point lead (103-99). White again received two free throw opportunities when Hands was fouled, both of which he made. Pickens also made two free throws, and the Cardinal took home a 107-99 victory.

Pickens and Davis led the team in points with 26 and 22 points, respectively, and Travis (who had 18 points) led the team in rebounds with 11.

Next, Stanford will face the USC Trojans (10-5) on Sunday, January 7 at home.

Stanford Cardinal defeated 77-74 by archival Cal Bears in Pac-12 opener

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO—The Stanford Cardinal Men’s Basketball team faced their first Pac-12 opponent of the season and cross-Bay Area rivals, the California Golden Bears, at Maples Pavillion two days before the new year.

Don Coleman, Marcus Lee, Justice Sueing, Nick Hamilton, and Darius McNeill started for the visiting Golden Bears. Kezie Okpala, Daejon Davis, Reid Travis, Michael Humphrey, and Dorian Pickens (who was out with an injury earlier this season) started for the Cardinal.

Cal’s Marcus Lee made the first basket of the game 17 seconds in, and Stanford’s Michael Humphrey made the second basket 13 seconds later. Cal made another two baskets over the course of 24 seconds and exceeded Stanford by four points at the 1:25 mark, until Reid Travis got a layup 15 seconds later at the 1:40 mark and Dorian Pickens made a three-pointer at 2:16, commencing Stanford’s lead over Cal, which would gradually increase throughout the first half.

Stanford’s Michael Humphrey more than doubled the lead just over 4 minutes in (13-6), and Stanford upped their lead to 10 points at the halfway point of the first 20 minutes. The score more than doubled again at the 12-minute mark (25-12) when Kezie Okpala made a jumper, assisted by Robert Cartwright.

The energy on the court and in the stands amped up significantly in the remaining five minutes of the first half, during which Stanford did not let their lead drop below 11 points. Humphrey made a dunk at 18:06 which put the Cardinal at a 14-point lead over the Bears, followed by a three-pointer from Dorian Pickens, bringing the lead to 17 points and then down to 15 after Cal’s Justice Sueing made two free throws following a foul on Oscar da Silva. Coleman made a three-pointer for the Bears with 30 seconds left in the half, and the Cardinal exceeded the Bears 37-24 at halftime.

Cal would slowly catch up to Stanford throughout the second half, and eventually exceed them. Coleman made the first basket, cutting Stanford’s lead over Cal to 11 points, and then by 10 points at the 3:18 mark when Lee got a jumper. Humphrey scored for Stanford, then Sueing for Cal, and the Cardinal’s lead was once again a point away from the single digits. Every time Stanford’s lead was cut to 10 points, they would score again to keep their lead above it through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Lee dunked for Cal, and less than a minute later, Josh Sharma made a jumper followed by a layup from Travis, giving Stanford a 15-point lead (55-40) at 6:43. The score was 60-45 just after the 10-minute mark, courtesy of Humphrey’s layup. 20 seconds later, McNeill got a 3-pointer for Cal. Stanford attained a 17 point lead after a 3-pointer from Davis with 9:28 remaining in the half.

Stanford’s lead was cut to single-digits when Cal’s Kingsley Okoroh got a layup with 6:12 left; they only led Cal by nine points. Coleman got a layup almost a minute after Okoroh, bringing the score to 66-59. Humphrey dunked for the Cardinal, inching the way back to a double-digit lead. He made a jumper one minute after his dunk and brought Stanford’s lead to 11 points once again. However, McNeill made a three-pointer for Cal directly after, followed by two layups and a free-throw from Sueing; Cal trailed by only three points. Travis quickly retaliated for Stanford with a layup and a free throw, bringing their lead up to six points. With 1:17 left in the game, Grant Anticevich made a three-pointer for Cal, making the score 73-72, giving Cardinal fans a “sudden death” feeling. Sueing got a layup and a free throw, and the Bears led the Cardinal for the first time since the beginning of the match (73-75). Travis was given two free throw opportunities with 20 seconds left in the match, only one of which he made. Davis was then fouled for Stanford, and Coleman, with two free-throw opportunities, made both for Cal with 17 seconds remaining. Travis had a chance at a three-pointer in the final seconds, but could not make it past Cal’s defense.

The Bears took home a 77-74 win.

“You go into every game confident that you’re going to win,” Humphrey said after being asked about the expectations of facing an identically ranked team. “We were all fired up to play [a rivalry game]. We wanted to start off Pac-12 play the right way, but we didn’t do that.”

Stanford struggled to make a majority of their free throws, which could have been the “make or break” of the overall score.

“I’ve probably worked more with free throws and shot more with [Stanford] than any other team I’ve ever had,” said Coach Jerod Haase. “To miss 16 free throws is going to be a problem. Ideally, you don’t get into that situation if the lead [in points] is a little bit bigger.”

Haase continued, “The experience and the cohesion of playing together is still growing, as is the execution of everything we are doing. But at the end of the day, you find ways to get stops at the end of a game… this game is going to sting, it’s going to hurt, but I feel as though we are building a foundation of something special.”

Both Stanford and Cal were 6-7 going into the match; one could argue that the outcome was going to be unpredictable. Stanford’s leader in points, Travis, averages 21.4 points per game (almost double that of his runner-up, Michael Humphrey, who has an average of 11.6 points per game). Cal’s point leader, Coleman, averages 20.5 points per game.

The Stanford Men’s Basketball team will commence the new year with a home match against the UCLA Bruins on January 4, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

Not in Kansas anymore: Stanford looking for answers after lopsided 75-54 loss to Jayhawks

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Kansas’ Svi Mykhailiuk gets to the rim against Stanford in the Jayhawks’ 75-54 victory at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA (Photos courtesy of Jordan Chapin)

By Morris Phillips

SACRAMENTO–Seventeen seconds into Thursday night’s contest, Kansas’ 7’0″ Udoka Azubuike cruised to the rim for an emphatic dunk.  Six minutes later and after a pair of missed shots, Stanford’s leading scorer, Reid Travis responded with a far less attention-grabbing layup.

The timing and impact of the two baskets said it all: Kansas locked in from the start, cruising to a 75-54 victory, while Stanford spent the evening searching for answers to questions that might not find answers until after the Cardinal return home from Sacramento.

In front of a Golden 1 Center crowd that was heavily populated with Kansas supporters and reigning National Player of the Year Frank Mason, now with the Sacramento Kings, the Jayhawks put an end to their issues with Pac-12 schools in one swift act. Normally dominant, Kansas had suffered losses to Arizona State and Washington earlier this month, and a shocking defeat to Oregon in last season’s NCAA Elite Eight at Kansas City. All three losses suggested that the national powerhouse from the Big 12 had slipped.  Dominating Stanford on Thursday said just the opposite.

Simply, said Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham, “We didn’t allow them to play well.”

Graham’s stern pronouncement stemmed from Kansas’ determination to get Stanford’s leading scorer stopped in his tracks. Travis, who scored 29 points last season at Kansas, and equaled that number (his career high) in the Cardinal’s previous game against USF, had a quiet night, scoring just 12 points, well off his 22.5 ppg average.  The Jayhawks rotated a trio of big guards on Travis, all at least two inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than the Stanford star. The quicker Kansas defenders kept Travis from driving. When Travis moved inside, he got attention from everywhere, including the shot blocking Azubuike.

“We did a good job considering how small we were guarding him,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I didn’t think our pressure was very good. We limited his opportunities to get to the glass.”

Most telling was the length of time that it took Travis to get the first of his five baskets. Against USF, Travis scored Stanford’s first eight points of the game. On Thursday, the ball was forced from his hands to his less steady teammates.  And without his usual scoring, Travis struggled at the foul line (1 of 3) and on the glass (4 rebounds).

Meanwhile, Azubuike shot 12 of 15, while leading Kansas’ dunk parade (a Kansas beat writer estimated that the Jayhawks had 13 dunks in the game) and playing off his far more offensively-savvy teammates to perfection. The sophomore from Nigeria whose serious pursuit of a basketball career began in the ninth grade, only slightly improved his shooting percentage from the floor from 77.6 percent to 77.9. Kansas shot 52.5 percent for the game, slight above their average which ranks fourth nationally.  Not surprisingly, Azubuike’s gaudy shooting percentage ranks number one nationally.

“We didn’t have an answer to be able to stop him, but that lies on my shoulders,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said of his team’s plan to limit Azubuike. “It was a conscious decision on our part to try and take away as many three-point shots and neutralize the four perimeter players out there as much as possible. That left Mike (Humphrey) and Josh (Sharma) on an island a little bit.”

Stanford again played without much-needed wing players Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield, who are injured, and their absence showed in their less experienced teammates’ statistics.  The Cardinal’s three freshman, starters Daejon Davis and Oscar Da Silva along with top reserve Isaac White, combined to miss 13 of their 15 shots.  A fourth freshman, Kezie Okpala, made his Stanford debut against Kansas after missing the first 12 games due to academic issues, and gave the Cardinal a shot of energy with his length and defense.  But Okpala’s contribution ended there: he also struggled with his shot, missing six of his eight attempts.

The Cardinal shot a chilly 34 percent for the game, which was prominently posted on the gigantic Golden 1 Center video board for all to see.  They shot just 30 percent in the second half, and when they reduced their 20-point halftime deficit to 15 on two occasions, little else positive transpired other than the game’s final horn.

Unless you credit the heavy Kansas contingent, who stole the show during timeouts with their KissCam and DanceCam performances. Mason, who Self said has really impressed the Kings’ coaching staff both on and off the floor, sat courtside and did his bit to fire up the crowd during timeouts, shooting halfcourt shots at halftime, and tossing giveaway t-shirts into the crowd. Travis swore the Kansas presence didn’t affect him or his teammates. Graham, who had 14 points and six assists, felt just the opposite.

“Shout out to Jayhawk nation,” Graham said. “They supported us well. It felt like a home game for us. It was a great atmosphere.”

Michael Humphrey led Stanford with 20 points and seven rebounds.

The Cardinal return from a Christmas break on December 30, when they will host California in the Pac-12 opener.

Stanford Cardinal fall to #7 Florida Gators by 21 points in PK80 opener 108-87

Photo: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

The Stanford Cardinal are one of the 16 collegiate basketball teams participating in the PK80 (Phil Knight Invitational) men’s basketball tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, held in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday.

Among the tournament invitees are Stanford, University of Florida, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, Butler University, University of Connecticut, DePaul University, Gonzaga University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, University of Portland, Portland State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at Austin, Gonzaga University, and University of Oregon.

Tonight, Stanford fell to the No. 7 Florida Gators 108-87.

Florida put up an 18-7 run just five minutes into the first half. Less than two minutes later, Stanford’s Daejon Davis capped an “and-one” and brought the score to 22-14. Nearly 10 minutes into the match, Florida exceeded Stanford by 12 points until Reid Travis (who is ranked fifth in the Pac-12 conference in scoring; 21 points per game) made a left-handed jam to put the Cardinal in a 10-point trail.

Just after the clock hit the 18-minute mark, the Gators were ahead by 25 points and 19 at halftime. Travis exceeded his teammates with 12 points.

Florida maintained their plus-20 lead over Stanford through the entire second half, eventually exceeding them by over 30 points, just after the 10-minute mark. In the final three minutes, the Cardinal were down 105-69, though they managed to bring their score up by 18 points before the buzzer sounded. However, the Card still took the loss. The final score was 108-87.

Travis, who ended the game with 23 points, kept his lead in points over the rest of the Cardinal roster for his fifth 20-point game this season. Robert Cartwright and Michael Humphrey were Travis’ runner-ups with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Cartwright tallied 10 points for the third time this season.

Stanford will face the No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs tomorrow in the second round of PK80

Northeastern Trails Close Throughout, Stanford Comes Out With 73-59 Win

Photo credit: @StanfordMBB

By Alexandra Evans

PALO ALTO — The Stanford Cardinal men’s basketball team faced the Northeastern Huskies this afternoon, who traveled to the Golden State from chilly Boston.

Both teams were strong on offense and defense in the first half; almost no rebounds were missed on both sides. Stanford managed to exceed Northeastern in points by nine after the first 20 minutes. With Stanford’s six team fouls (compared to Northeastern’s four), Northeastern had three opportunities for free throws, all of which were missed. Northeastern’s Donnell Gresham Jr. made a three-pointer from the center of the court in the last three seconds. The ending score was 33-24 Stanford, who managed to keep a lead over the Huskies throughout the first half.

The second half commenced with fast-paced back-and-forth action. After a Stanford foul 18 seconds in, both teams took turns making each attempted basket in the first five minutes, bringing each of their scores up by more than 10 points.

Northeastern made numerous three-pointer attempts in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but none were successful until Huskies’ Bolden Brace notched one just after the 10-minute mark. Northeastern would then score three more three-pointers in the remainder (comprising part of their 59 points at the end of the match). Stanford only had two three-point shots, but managed to overthrow Northeastern with numerous two-pointers.

Almost three-quarters of the way into the second half (nearing the 14-minute mark), the Huskies only trailed the Cardinal by four points, and then only by two points at 14:30. Isaac White then made a three-pointer to bring the score to 60-55 Stanford at 14:45, then Michael Humphrey made both free throws after Brace was fouled.

A great block by (#13 S) prevented the Huskies’ Devon Begley from making a shot-clock beating basket. #13 then made a three-pointer with just under a minute left in the match, barely beating the shot clock.

The final score was 73-59 Stanford. Both teams finished with 36 rebounds (the only even statistic of the game).

Stanford forward Michael Humphrey and guard Daejon Davis shared their thoughts on the match in a post-game conference. Despite the win, both believed there is substantial room for overall improvement.

“In the middle of the second half [the whole team] got caught up in the emotions of the game,” Humphrey noted. “But all of us calmed down and ended the game strong, which is what we needed to do.”

“Northeastern is a great offensive rebounding team, but we can’t give up that many offensive boards. Especially with a team our size and our athleticism…If we don’t make the boards, we have a really good chance of winning.”

Davis added, “Any time we come out with a win, I’m always up, no matter who contributed and how we got it done. A win makes everyone feel good, but we, as a team, definitely have so many things to improve on. We can’t have that dip we had in the second half; we need to keep our energy up for 40 minutes. I am just waiting for us to put together a full game on both the offensive and defensive ends all the way through, with energy and effort.”

Coach Jerod Haase expressed excitement when Northeastern managed to score a buzzer-beating three pointer before halftime. Haase was curious as to how much effort the team would put into bouncing back and cultivating a lead in the double digits again. To him, this was the biggest testament.

“[Responses as such are] a very, very important step, when [the team] can believe that when things go a bit south, we can respond to that,” Haase contended.

Next up, Stanford will face the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday, November 20 at Maples Pavilion.