Stanford men’s basketball (9-5, 2-1 Pac-12) knew it had to correct its slow starts if it wanted to compete in the Pac-12.
On Wednesday night against Oregon State, the team finally succeeded in doing just that.
The Cardinal scored 37 first-half points in their 78-72 takedown of Oregon State (10-3, 1-1), just two points off their season high against a Power-Seven opponent. Stanford used its staunch defense and an uncharacteristically energetic attack to build a 13-point halftime lead from which the Beavers could never claw their way back.
“They were the tougher team by a long, long ways,” Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle told ESPN after the game. “It was a one-sided butt-kicking.”
The Cardinal truly looked a different team from their dramatic opening weekend of conference play, taking charge of the game almost from start to finish to silence the fans in Corvallis. Stanford enjoyed a particularly sizable advantage in rebounding — an area where it had struggled since losing sophomore Reid Travis to a stress fracture in December — using a 20-9 edge in offensive boards to control the game tempo and create 16 second-chance points.
“That should be something we’re good at,” head coach Johnny Dawkins said of Stanford’s effort. “Guys made a good effort tonight.”
Rosco Allen paved the way for Stanford with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while junior Marcus Allen added another 15 to the scoreline. Freshman Josh Sharma also proved a surprising offensive weapon with a career-high 8 points from the bench, helping hand Oregon State just its fifth home loss in the Tinkle era in the process.
Gary Payton II led the Beavers with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but a number of key free-throw misses and an untimely turnover with just over a minute to go put a blemish on his otherwise solid evening. Oregon State largely failed to establish freshman phenom Tres Tinkle as an attacking threat, and his 8 points were his lowest total since the team’s Dec. 5 matchup against Nevada.
The Cardinal’s trip through the Beaver State continues in Eugene this Sunday, as the team visits the Oregon Ducks.
Despite graduating 2015 All-Pac-12 guard Joseph Young in the offseason, Oregon has had an impressive start to the season under Dana Altman, the reigning John R. Wooden Coach of the Year. Sophomore forward Dillon Brooks built on an impressive rookie campaign to become a legitimate do-it-all threat for the Ducks, while freshman guard Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s top 2015 recruit, has helped to fill in for some of the scoring and playmaking ability left by Young.
This unglamorous but effective squad briefly earned the Ducks an AP top-15 ranking after they started the season 6-0. The team is a less impressive 6-3 since then, most notably falling by double digits in the Civil War on Jan. 3, but it should be in a positive mindset after a 68-65 victory over Cal on Wednesday.
It may be the Ducks frontcourt that challenges Stanford the most, as the veteran group led by senior Elgin Cook and junior Chris Dorsey is ninth in the country with 6.07 blocks per game. With the height and interior presence of Travis likely unavailable as he continues his recovery from a stress fracture, the Cardinal may have to count more on their jump shots to put points on the board, an area where they have been considerably less consistent this season.
Stanford tips off against Oregon at 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.