Tonight, I tried to accomplish the highly unlikely.
Broadcasting the women's basketball game at Maples, I attempted
to go the whole night without knowing the score of the men's game. With the
Eugene contest starting an hour beforehand, this was going to be a
Mission impossible. Tom Cruise need not apply.
show flashed up "Oregon 41, Stanford 40, Second Half" midway through the first
half of the women's game, and being eye-level with the scoreboard, I had no
choice but to look. Then I saw "Stanford 50, Oregon 49, 10:30 Second Half." Then
"Oregon 66, Stanford 58, 3:48 Second Half."
I made it out of Maples still
unaware of the final result, but that last score check was certainly a bad omen.
When my friend texted me something to the extent of "Stanford lost," the
guesswork was taken away. Stanford did indeed lose to the Ducks, 78-67, and I
was left having to watch the game already knowing the outcome.
As I started watching the game back on my DVR, I wondered exactly how
in the hell Oregon was going to pull this one off. The Card quickly got out to a
7-2 lead thanks to smothering defense and a heavy dose of Josh Owens that only
got heavier as the first frame wore on. Outside of a couple of Chasson
turnovers (not his best night tonight, but he was always aggressive and looking
to make plays - I respected his performance), this game got off to a great
But then a former Tubbynesian started to get going. First a
wide-open mid-range jumper. Then a clean-up lay-in in transition. Next a three.
Another layup ensued. By the time Stanford had scored their next seven, Oregon
had dropped in 12 to tie it up at 14, nine of which had come by way of one Devoe Joseph.
Still, the offense was looking much more fluid than it did
against USC. Aaron Bright was making much better decisions with the basketball;
he didn't pick it up after driving to the elbow and drawing two defenders unless
it was to pass to an open man. Five assists, zero turnovers on the night. A job
More importantly, he was finding a way to consistently get the
ball down to Josh Owens, who was having a monster of a first half. I love Tony Woods, but Josh turned was too quick whenever he had some room to work with.
When the Kennesaw Kid caught it at the right elbow on one possession, he blew
right by the Wake Forest transfer for an all-too-easy layup. As impressive as
his 31 was last year against the Ducks, it looked as if Josh might be able to
surpass his career high.
That turned out to be far from the case, as
Altman, Inc. did a much better job of clamping down on Owens in the second half.
Whether it was by fronting Josh, collapsing the defense to cut off the
post-entry passing lanes or by straight up doubling him, Oregon refused to let
Owens get the ball. When he did, he would get it in spots where he wasn't
comfortable and where Tony Woods was in a better position to use his size to
agitate Josh's attempts. E.J. Singler and Jeremy Jacob also did a bang-up job
defensively when they had their licks at Stanford's prominent post
Josh does his damage down low when he gets it on the first look
of the possession. If that first pass isn't there, usually the Stanford
perimeters will not look to Josh again. If it does go back to Owens after the
first look isn't ideal, then he usually doesn't have much time to work with or
is further away from the hoop and has to make a dollar out of 15 cents. When
this game got away at the end, the "littles" stopped looking to Josh altogether
and decided to hoist up a boatload of threes, which turned out to not help the
However, that wasn't until the final minutes. It was
still very much in the balance for the majority of the second half. Stanford
even went up 50-49 after a John Gage three (career night for the sophomore, by
the way. I love how he never hesitates to not pass up an open shot and just let
The sequence that killed the Card immediately followed
Stanford's short-lived second half lead, thanks again to ex-Tubbymania. After
Stanford missed out on an opportunity to extend their lead, Devoe Joseph pulled
up in transition to knock down a long bomb that would put the Ducks back on top.
Next possession, Devoe pushed the tempo again and drove all the way to the hoop.
He didn't knock it down, but an offensive rebound kept the possession alive, and
Joseph ended up hitting another trey. Soon enough, it was 55-50 Quacks, and the
Thunder Green and Lightning Yellow never looked back.
That last three
sums up the two things that absolutely murdered Stanford tonight: Devoe Joseph
and offensive rebounds. Joseph had a career-high 30, making him the third guard
in four games to score considerably more than their average against Stanford
(Butler's Nored, UCLA's Jones being the others). But honestly, he wasn't all
that impressive; all Joseph had to do most of the time was knock down
uncontested threes. He got so many good looks tonight that it would have been
hard for him to shoot worse than 5-7 from beyond the arc and 9-15 overall. I'm
not trying to take anything away from his performance and I will give Joseph
credit for being able to separate himself from his man by running him through
screens (which happened to Jarrett in the first half on one trip that comes to
mind), but a lot of times, he didn't have to work nearly as hard as Lazeric Jones did for his 26 against Stanford the previous Thursday.
offensive rebounds I didn't see coming. This was one category where the Cardinal
had been so solid just about all season with the exception of the Butler game.
But tonight, they gave up 14 on the offensive glass - the most since they played
the current No. 1 team in the country. The one possession at the end of
the half to put the Ducks up 34-32 was an absolute heartbreaker - five offensive
rebounds, followed by a - you guessed it - Devoe Joseph three. Oregon did a
great job of moving the ball and penetrating, both of which led to Stanford
getting out of sorts defensively, forcing switches and collapses, which in turn
left the weak side open on many occasions for a Lightning Yellow-clad lad to
come in and get a new 35 for his boys.
This clearly isn't the best way
to compare the two games, but Stanford gave up just seven offensive rebounds to
USC last Saturday. Oregon obtained seven more than USC. The Ducks shot
just a tad under 50 percent, so say those offensive rebounds led to three made
field goals out of seven extra attempts. About one-third of the Oregon makes
came from downtown, so say one of those three makes was a trey. That's seven
more points right there. This isn't accounting for a ton of factors like free
throws and turnovers, but it's some idea on how Oregon racked up the most points
anyone has scored against the Card all season.
All that being said, I
can't say I'm all that worried. If there's one thing I know about Johnny Dawkins, it's that he is going to hammer home the importance of rebounding in
their Friday practice and Saturday shootaround, something his team is already
well-aware of. This isn't like two years ago where the Cardinal seemingly
couldn't grab a rebound to save their lives; this is a very solid rebounding
team that just had an off-night on the glass.
For the most part, Stanford
was right there with a team many consider to be on equal footing with the Card.
Stanford had the lead with less than 10 minutes to play and it wasn't until the
last four-minute stretch that Oregon really pulled away. The Matt was far from a
capacity crowd, but it is still the Ducks' home court, and I wouldn't expect an
11-point Duck victory in Cardinalville.
Going forward, the Card are going
to need consistent production out of Dwight to seriously compete for a Pac-12
crown. Powell had a rough first half and didn't have much better Andrew in the
second (get it? Luck?! Alright, alright, I'm sure you think that is the worst
play on words of all time; even I can't believe I'm leaving it in there. We'll
see if Boom Boom takes it out! – I'll give it to you, Kevin!), but he
did have one very solid possession on defense where he went straight up with his
arms and forced a shot that barely grazed the rim. If he can continue to make
solid defensive stops, that can give him some confidence to do work on the other
end. The talent is definitely still there and I still think he can go off for 20
in a game this season; it's just a matter of Dwight being able to tap into his
While this would have been a huge victory, the Earth didn't
stop on its axis tonight for Stanford. Road losses are the norm for just about
every team in the Pac-12. With Cal losing, Stanford still has the best overall
record in the Pac and are only one-half game behind the - wait for it - Colorado
Buffaloes for first place. We are only a couple of games into conference
play, and there's only one team left with an undefeated conference record. The
Pac will be just as wide-open (perhaps more) as expected.
Time for the
Cardinal to put this loss behind them, as what awaits on Saturday is a date with
a very high-scoring Oregon State squad coming off a much-needed win over the
A preview on the Beavers is to follow. Until then, console
yourselves with the fact that a Stanford split in the Beaver State keeps the
Card on schedule for an at-large bid.
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And 1: Oregon 78, Stanford 67
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