What can Brown do for you? For the Stanford men's basketball team, he can help snap a four-game losing streak by having the best day of his young career in red and white. The Cardinal broke out of their recent slump by defeating the Oregon State Beavers, 70-56 on Saturday night, and freshman guard Anthony Brown, in his first start of the season, was the difference maker.
Brown had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, all career highs, and was the centerpiece of a victory that had Head Coach Johnny Dawkins smiling. "I was really proud of our guys' effort, passing the ball, going from side to side, making connecting plays," Dawkins said. "It was fun to see our guys play that way."
Dawkins also praised the way Brown made his presence felt in every area of the game. "He's starting to see what he's capable of doing, and we needed all of what he did tonight," he said. "[Brown]'s earned a second start." Brown said he wanted to make the most of his chance to make a mark right away. "From the get-go I wanted to get our team going. I was just trying to be a little bit more vocal, get everyone to keep fighting," he said.
The Cardinal rushed out of the gates in the first half, opening up with a 10-0 run in the first three minutes, thanks to pure shooting all around. Stanford simply couldn't miss early on, going 5-5 from the floor, and 3-3 from downtown, grabbing a 13-2 after less than four minutes. The Beavers, buoyed by the hot play of freshman guard Ahmad Starks, who finished with a career-high 17 points, weren't going to go that quietly though, as the Beavers forced the game back to a tie at 20 by playing tough zone and trap defenses that forced 13 Stanford turnovers in the first half and sent Dwight Powell to the bench with two fouls with 14:31 left in the half.
The Beavers took their first lead of the game when Starks bombed in a three to snag a 25-24 lead just moments later, but John Gage answered the call for Stanford, hitting a three to take back a 27-25 lead with 4:11 to play, his second three in two minutes. Stanford managed to hang on by the slimmest of margins at the half, though, as Brown hit a three to give Stanford a 31-30 lead at the break.
Dawkins said that the halftime adjustments, especially for Josh Owens, who only had one shot attempt in the first half, were what made the difference for the Cardinal. "I tried to explain to Josh at half, that he has to assert himself," Dawkins said. "He had to do a better job of creating his own opportunities." Owens took his coach's advice to heart, crashing the boards to snag three offensive rebounds in the second half, giving him easy put-backs and layups (along with a few powerful alley-oop dunks) that helped him to 12 of his 14 points.
Additionally, the Cardinal didn't get bogged down in the Beavers' 1-3-1 trap defense in the second half, finally finding a transition game that had eluded them in the first period of play. Beaver head coach Craig Robinson said the Beavers' poor shooting – 23.5% in the second half – was what gave Stanford the boost they needed. "Because we were missing so many point-blank shots, they were getting runouts because we were trying to really press the boards," Robinson said. "When you miss that many layups, it's just hard to beat anybody."
In addition to finally having some fun on the floor, Dawkins said that running with the ball was a welcome sight. "That's the way we want to play, we want to push and make those plays, but we weren't ready for that early this season," he said. "If we want to run with it, we have to value the basketball."
Brown said the strong second half - in which the Cardinal outscored the Beavers 39-26 - showed some positives for the team. "It was very fun, and I think our team is starting to get a lot more chemistry." The other positives were that the victory for Stanford snapped a four-game Pac-10 losing streak and it was the first time the Cardinal had scored more than 60 points since January 2nd.
The Cardinal will continue a four game home stand next week against the Arizona schools, welcoming in a Wildcats team (6:00pm on Thursday) that is 7-2 in conference and an Arizona State squad (3:00pm on Saturday) that sits in the cellar of the Pac-10 at 1-8.
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