Which will come first in the second half? A Stanford free throw or an Oregon State three? We're had none of either thus far. Turns out it's going to be a Stanford free throw, as Josh Huestis makes two after Joe Burton hacks him hard. Burton threw up in a trash can during a first-half stoppage in play, so he's got to be hurting. Come at him, guys. Burton swishes a no-look two-footer, literally throwing the ball over his head. Aaron Bright gets half a step and just keeps going to his left for the layup. Andy Brown splits a pair. Bright has a beautiful cross-court pass for a Huestis layup. Then Bright hits another floater in quite possibly the best three-minute spurt of his Stanford career. 43-37 as OSU needs a timeout after a 9-2 Cardinal run. On his 21st birthday, Bright has six assists to no turnovers, with four rebounds and two steals for good measure.
Oregon State's backcourt is bleak, man. In a combined 33 minutes, Ahmad Starks and Charlie Barton are 0-of-4 for nary a point. If I were an OSU guard, I would keep going to Burton too though, as he splits the Stanford double team inside. He now has 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but Stanford responds with a Brown layup. Nelson with a three, snapping OSU's scoreless streak. Powell putback dunk of a Bright miss, so even when the birthday boy misses, it's all good. Huestis three and Stanford suddenly has some breathing room.
16-minute timeout: Stanford 49, Oregon State 42
Whatever was said or done at halftime, amen to that! After 34 points in the first 20 minutes, Stanford has nearly doubled its scoring rate with 15 points in this half's first five minutes. Gage misses an open three, but he's near 50 percent on the season, so keep taking that shot. Bright loses a would-be O board, and OSU capitalizes with a Barton layup. I unjinxed the dude, as those were his first points of the game. Brown spin move down low and layup, as the Stanford big is going to work on the smaller Roberto Nelson. Finally, Stanford knows Burton is out and is attacking!
Bright has another great pass, this time from halfcourt, to Brown, who has beaten OSU to the hoop. Brown draws the foul and a goaltend. Dude is a scoring machine, with 11 points on seven shots tonight and a free throw pending.
12-minute timeout: Stanford 53, Oregon State 49
I realize Stanford's coach isn't the most popular man on campus at the moment, but Stanford has done exactly what they needed to in terms of halftime adjustments. To wit, they have started going at Oregon State when Burton was on the bench and started getting to the line.
Honestly, I think Stanford's problem is S&C related more than anything. I am prompted to write this as Moreland just went through three Cardinal for an O-board, layup and a free throw.
The S&C gap also shows itself on the offensive end, though, as it is a factor in all the missed bunnies. Here, Bright missed a layup and Powell, for not the first time this season, missed the tip dunk.
If you believe the hypothesis, then the million dollar question becomes to what extent Stanford's S&C gap is a function of age -- with only Gabe Harris a senior – and to what extent the S&C gap is due to more fundamental issues. Your feelings here probably predict who you think should be coaching this team come 2014.
Dwight Powell's foul-drawn rate is among the best in the conference, and he earns this latest one, as a pump fake gets Roberto Nelson's groin landing atop Powell's shoulder. This half, it'll be Stanford in the bonus early, and with two makes at the line, Powell has pushed Stanford's lead to six.
Keep going at it, Stanford! Randle drives the hoop this time and gets foul No. 8 on OSU with 8:39 to go. He misses the pair, but Powell rebounds and Bright knocks down a corner three.
Now that's an in-bounds play! Nelson is in midair to catch a sideline lob and finishes what becomes an and-one play. Brown tries to throw an alley oop to Powell, which the rim blocks, but right to Huestis, who cleans up for the deuce.
Eight-minute timeout: Stanford 67, Oregon State 61
Nelson has 22, and Burton has 16 for Oregon State. Both of those guys have three fouls. If I'm Stanford, I go at them mercilessly on the offensive end to try to foul them out, as it would be our best defensive strategy to boot.
After a -11 first half in rebounding, Stanford is +10 in the second half. Nelson gets a close whistle on Brown and hits both free throws as OSU pulls within four. Huestis' three is well off on the ensuing possession. Nelson raises him with an airball, and we will gladly take that.
Chasson Randle had no first half points versus USC but 16 in the second half. Here, he has 12 first half points and only one in the second half, and is now 1-of-4 from the free throw line after splitting a pair. I'm usually one to believe in statistical variance and not over-analyze trends that don't exist, but I think there may be something to him pushing too hard at times.
I take it all back as Randle has an absolutely horrible call go against him on a fast break. He made a great play to tip a full-court pass off Nelson and out of bounds, not touching Nelson at any point during the play. As the official is literally on the other side of halfcourt, Randle is called for the whistle, OSU is in the bonus and Nelson makes both his free throws. That is some bad refereeing.
Stanford comes back with a fourth-chance layup. Hey, missing all those bunnies is good for the O board numbers, at least. Nelson is playing out of control and throws up a prayer that doesn't hit rim while falling to the court. Huestis draws a flagrant foul but misses both free throws – only to have a beautiful tip layup on the continuing possession.
Four-minute timeout: Stanford 73, Oregon State 65
It'll be the starting five down the stretch and both teams have initial trouble scoring here, with a Randle offensive foul punctuating Stanford's troubles. But then, after Nelson missed a three the previous possession, he responds with a 18-foot teardrop to pull OSU within four. Randle hits the floor as Stanford's next possession devolves into a loose-ball scrum, and somehow that's foul No. 5 for Chasson. That is a garbage third foul for Randle, and a questionable fourth and fifth whistle as well. Sheesh.
Harris replaces Randle. OSU misses the front-end of the one-and-one Randle generated. Bright is in double digits with a three, and more importantly, Stanford now leads by seven with 1:49 left. Play of the game for the birthday boy. OSU turns it over. Powell throws it down with aggression, driving right-handed all the way down the lane to give Stanford its biggest lead of the night, at nine points.
Roberto Nelson's stat line deserves mention as Stanford starts to salt this one away from the line. The OSU guard will finish with 28 points. The bad news is they came on 26 shots, including 1-of-9 from deep. Ouch. Powell and Huestis each make two free throws, and that's all she wrote. Stanford keeps alive its inside straight draw of an NCAA Tournament run. The stakes will be raised come Saturday, as Stanford looks to sweep suddenly slumping Oregon.
Final: Stanford 82, Oregon State 72
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