And 1: Stanford 79, Pacific 37

Kevin Danna brings his insights and observations from Stanford's standout defensive performance, a 79-37 victory over Pacific on Monday night at Maples Pavilion. Check out what Kevin saw from his VIP seat at the contest as Stanford struggled initially, but eventually put away their distant neighbors from Stockton.

At 1:15 today, I got asked to sub in for an ailing broadcaster and do the Stanford All-Access broadcast of the men's hoops game against Pacific that night. Sure, no problem. But what did I know about the Big West Tigers?

Aside from the quick blurb in my previous article, next to nothing about this year's team.

Turns out I didn't need to know all that much, as the Stanford Cardinal punished Pacific for 40 minutes en route to a 79-37 rout Monday night in the house that Roscoe built.

This is exactly what the Farm Boys needed to do- suck the life out of an inferior opponent.  With all due respect to the Spanos Center Superheroes and their multiple NCAA appearances and CIT bids of years past, there is a significant talent gap between the two teams this year, and anything less than a blowout win would not have been satisfying.

The Tigers did hang in there for close to 15 minutes. Ross Rivera got on a little roll early and hit a couple of nice short jumpers, at one point giving Pacific a 10-9 lead. Lorenzo McCloud showed some game in him with a nice pull up short-corner jumper, and Travis Fulton filled it up from beyond the arc.

That's about all that went right for the Tigers, though, as it certainly wasn't enough to keep up with:

- Chasson Randle, who could not miss from the field tonight. Literally, he did not miss. Nailed all four three-point attempts and was 5-5 from the field overall. What was that about the work his jumper needed? Looked just fine to me.

- Josh Owens, who had a cool 14 points as well. He didn't get as many looks tonight as perhaps I would have liked to see him get (some credit goes to the Tigers here, who were willing to double hard anytime JO got it on the low block), but you can't knock 7-8 - he made the most of his opportunities. He cleaned up his only miss in what was my favorite Josh Owens possession tonight. Stanford was already up by nearly 30, and Josh was still going hard, out-hustling the Tiger bigs for the loose ball and scoring the put-back.  He has the talent to go for 20-plus on the rest of our non-conference opponents, and maybe the vast majority of our conference foes. I mean, if he can go for 21 against the Pokes, who's to say he can't put up similar numbers against most Pac-12 squads that don't have much effective size?

- Stefan Nastic, who had much better footwork on Monday and showed he had a little nimble in him.  How ‘bout that reverse layup in the first half? He fought hard and is headed in the right direction. I really like how Dawkins is using him by putting him in low-risk situations to start off the season. He saw some time tonight when the game was still in the balance, but Stanford had already shown signs of pulling away, and if things looked REALLY ugly for Stefan, then Dawkins could have easily just gone back to Owens or Zimmermann and right the ship. That didn't need to happen though. I also like how he was able to pass out of the double team tonight and find the open shooter, which happened to be Chasson Randle on Stefan's first possession (he literally subbed in and hit Chasson seconds later to push the lead to 18-10).

- And the Stanford defense, which was relentless all night- especially in the second half. The Cardinal blockade harassed the Tigers into 20 turnovers, a tally four higher than the number of field goals they converted. While holding You-oh-Pee to 32 percent shooting was nice, for me, it didn't beat Pacific's team total of six assists on 16 made buckets. Stanford did a great job of forcing the Tigers to try to go all Demetrius Harris and be individual playmakers.

That whole second half was a thing of beauty. Instead of letting the Tigers hang around for a little before putting them away for good, the Farm Boys went for the jugular.  After a quick Fulton three to start the second half, the Cardinal went on a 26-4 run to turn the game into a laugher. It seemed like Pacific was stuck on 30 points forever. While it didn't last an eternity, nine minutes and 32 seconds is a LONG time to be stuck on a certain number in a basketball game.

The defensive effort never relented, and Stanford was never satisfied until the final horn (ok I kid, maybe someone could have closed out harder on Spencer Llewellyn to try to preserve a 79-34 win with 35 seconds left. I'll forgive it, though).

One down, two to go in this first of two three-game pods.  Off to the Pacific Northwest next for a game that won't be nearly as easy as this one. More details to come at a later date…

Until then, be happy that the letdown was superbly avoided tonight, and that we're still on pace to pull a Stanford Football and go 11-1 in our non-conference regular season games.

Bring on the Fightin' Dollars.
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