Men’s hoops heads south for first road trip of conference play

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After opening Pac-12 play with three consecutive home victories, Stanford men’s basketball (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) travels to Los Angeles to face UCLA (8-8, 1-2 Pac-12) and USC (13-3, 2-1). A Wednesday brawl with the Bruins will be the Cardinal’s second true road game of the season and Saturday’s matchup with the Trojans the third. 

With wins over Cal, Washington and Washington State, the Cardinal boasts the lone unblemished record in Pac-12 play. The victories also helped Stanford secure the No. 25 slot in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll — the program’s first ranking since January 19, 2015, when the Cardinal also edged its way into the 25th spot. It has been even longer since Stanford opened conference action 3-0. Sixteen years ago, standout Josh Childress led the Card to 17 straight wins in the Pac-10 before the team fell to Washington 62-75 in the final conference contest. 

To leave LA with two perfection-preserving wins, Stanford’s defense will need to be representative of its ranking as the seventh best-scoring defense in the nation. In 16 total games, the Cardinal held 15 opponents to less than 70 points, with an average of 58.3; against conference foes, the defense has been even more successful, allowing an average of 56.3 points per game. The only Stanford opponent to break the 70-point ceiling was No. 5 Kansas, who handed the Card its second loss of the season — and only loss on its home court — on Dec. 29.

The Bruins, however, could be the second team to escape from Stanford’s 70-point limit. UCLA has averaged nearly 72 points per games in 16 contests, with a season-high 93 against San Jose State on December 1. Nearly two weeks later, the Cardinal also faced the Spartans, but only managed to put 78 points on the board. 

That being said, the Bruins have allowed nearly as many points as they have earned, with opponents averaging a 43.2 field goal percentage and just under 69 points per meeting; however, whether or not this will spell victory for the visitors from the Bay is impossible to say. The Cardinal sank a season-high 61% of shots from the field in Saturday’s matchup with Washington State, but the decisive 88-62 victory was preceded by five of Stanford’s six worst offensive performances of the season. 

For offensive strength against the southern foes, Stanford will likely continue to look to freshman guard Tyrell Terry and junior forward Oscar da Silva. Following his 22-point showing against the Cougars, Terry was dubbed the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week; the 6’1″ guard also snagged six rebounds. Meanwhile, da Silva heads into Wednesday’s game averaging a team-high 16.5 points per game. 

Pac-12 action in UCLA’s historic Pauley Pavilion tips-off at 7 p.m. PT on Wednesday. The Cardinal will then take on the Trojans on Saturday at 3:30p.m. PT.

Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu

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