STANFORD — If timing is everything, the Stanford men’s basketball team chose the right moment for a breakout performance.
After a sluggish start to the Pac-12 Conference season, the Cardinal (12-8, 3-4) grabbed its most lopsided conference victory in nine years, whupping Utah 87-56 on Sunday. The win gives Stanford some desperately needed momentum as No. 10 Oregon (18-2, 7-0) storms into Maples Pavilion tonight.
“Coming off of a good win is a good thing for us,” coach Johnny Dawkins said. “Our kids are coming in with a confidence level and that’s always good.”
Stanford is 3-11 against ranked opponents under Dawkins and the squad hasn’t knocked off a top-10 team since it beat the No. 9 Washington State on Feb. 2, 2008.
Forward Andy Brown said a victory over the Ducks would give Stanford an important signature win.
“Knocking off the first-place team would be a great boost for us,” he said. “It would definitely change our season.”
Hitting the glass: The Ducks were picked to finish seventh in the conference by the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
But the team is defying expectations, putting together its first 7-0 start since the 1925-26 season.
A key ingredient of the Ducks’ success thus far is their dominance on the glass. Oregon is the Pac-12’s top rebounding team (39.2 rebounds per game) and is developing a reputation for being the Pac-12’s most physical team in the paint.
“They’re just ferocious on the boards,” Dawkins said. “They have a number of guys who are relentless.”
Nothing but net: Stanford should be one of the Pac-12’s top shooting teams, but the team’s confidence was bruised during a grueling nonconference schedule. The Cardinal hold the conference’s worst shooting percentage (40.5 percent), but they found their touch against Utah on Sunday, nailing 50 percent of their shots.
Stanford should be encouraged by the re-emergence of guard Chasson Randle, who is returning to rhythm, averaging 16.0 points per game in his past six contests, while shooting 41.2 percent from the field.