By Ells Boone
Fresh off its Pac-12 opening win over Arizona, Stanford men’s basketball (4-2, 1-0 Pac-12) will stay at its temporary home in Santa Cruz to take on California State University, Bakersfield (3-2, 0-0 Big West) on Monday. The Cardinal was originally supposed to play Sacramento State at home on this date, but Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 restrictions — specifically the area’s ban on contact sports — forced the schedule and location to shift.
Stanford is riding a three-game win streak and recovering from the thrill of beating Arizona for the first time since 2009. Big performances from senior forward Oscar da Silva, freshman forward Ziaire Williams and junior guard Bryce Wills, along with a pair of clutch three pointers down the stretch from sophomore forward Spencer Jones, made the difference on Saturday night.
A major storyline coming into Monday is senior guard Daejon Davis’s availability. He left Saturday’s game about halfway through the second half with what looked like a lower leg injury after colliding with Arizona freshman forward Azuolas Tubelis at midcourt. Davis did not return to the game and his status is unclear ahead of Monday’s tip.
He previously missed the CSU Northridge game on Dec. 15 for undisclosed, non-injury related reasons. Head coach Jerod Haase will have to shuffle his lineup if Davis is unable to play, and the Cardinal will need to see respectable offensive performances from more than just da Silva to come away with a victory. In the five games he has played this season, Davis averaged 3.8 assists and 13.8 points per contest — the team’s best and second-best marks in each category, respectively. Freshman guard Michael O’Connell got the start in his place against the Matadors last week.
CSU Bakersfield comes into this tilt with a 3-2 record, holding wins over Idaho, Saint Katherine and Bethesda. They lost to Arizona 85-60 on the road on Dec. 9, largely due to the Wildcats’ widespread shooting success that helped five players add a double-digit game to their career stats. That being said, nearly half of the Roadrunners’ points against Arizona came from bench players, suggesting that Stanford will need to remain on its toes even when the opponent’s starting five are resting.
The Roadrunners return all of their starters from last year’s team that finished with a 12-19 (6-10 Big West) record. They are led at guard by redshirt senior De’Monte Buckingham, who is averaging 8.2 points per game to go with 5.0 rebounds per game. Senior forwards Taze Moore and Shawn Stith also play big roles with 9.8 and 8.2 points per game, respectively.
This will be the first meeting between the two California schools since Feb. 10, 2009 — an 85-50 win for the Cardinal. Haase will have to make sure that his team does not overlook the Roadrunners and come out ready to play from the get-go. CSU Bakersfield’s frontcourt does not match up well with da Silva, who is averaging a Pac-12-leading 20.3 points per game, so look for him to try to set the tone early. If things go according to plan, the Cardinal will be able to go deeper into its bench and recalibrate before getting into the bulk of conference play.
Tip-off at Kaiser Permanente Arena is set for 6 p.m. PT on Monday.
Contact Ells Boone at eboone24 ‘at’ stanford.edu.