Call it a night of missed opportunities. The Stanford men’s basketball team struggled from the outset in its matchup against UCLA (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) on Thursday, falling to the Bruins 91-74 in a disappointing performance that snapped a three-game conference win streak. It marked Stanford’s 16th loss in its last 17 games in Los Angeles against either UCLA or USC.
Plagued by turnovers and missed open looks, the Cardinal (12-6, 3-3) did not bring its A-game when it needed it most. Stanford shot just 38.6 percent from the field and failed to protect the ball against the Pac-12 steals leader, turning it over a season-high 19 times in the loss. It was Stanford’s highest turnover night since a 22-turnover game against Denver on Dec. 2 last season.
Despite the issues across the board, the Cardinal remained competitive for a large portion of the first half, even holding a 20-17 lead nine minutes into the game. That lead would quickly erode and then transform into a deficit shortly thereafter, as a 1-for-6 shooting stretch in combination with four turnovers saw a three-point lead become an eight-point deficit in a span of five minutes. From that point forward, the Cardinal would never again draw closer than five. UCLA led by double figures for the entirety of the second half.
In defeat, senior forward Dwight Powell registered 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinal, although he was also responsible for six of the team’s turnovers. Fellow senior forward Josh Huestis also tallied a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but he shot just 3-of-10 from the floor. His shooting performance, while poor, was not the worst a member of the Cardinal suffered on this night.
Junior guard Chasson Randle, who has spent most of the season as a deadly efficient scoring machine, finished just 3-of-16 from the floor, easily his worst shooting performance of the season.
UCLA was boosted by a career-high performance by sophomore big man Tony Parker, who dominated the interior to the tune of 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting in just 28 minutes. Guard Jordan Adams chipped in with 19 points, while forward Kyle Anderson continued to put up gaudy all-around numbers, finishing the evening with 13 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and two steals.
The keys to the game for Stanford were fairly clear-cut from the start: take care of the ball, and in the process, limit UCLA’s explosive offense. Stanford failed to do just that, and, as a result, the Bruins were able to shoot 52.3 percent from the floor, an efficiency that effectively helped shoot the Cardinal out of Pauley Pavilion. UCLA surpassed its season average of 84.4 points per game with 91 and steals-per-game average of 10.7 with 15.
The loss meant that Stanford failed to extend its conference winning streak to four, which would have marked the first time the Cardinal had attained a streak of that length since February 2008. As a result, Stanford will be forced to begin anew when it takes on USC this Sunday, in anticipation of the Cardinal’s home matchup with top-ranked Arizona next week.
Stanford will seek to exorcise some of its Los Angeles demons at the Galen Center against the Pac-12 cellar-dwelling Trojans, who found new life in Wednesday’s upset of Cal. Sunday’s tip-off is at 2 p.m.
Contact Daniel E. Lupin at delupin ‘at’ stanford.edu.