The previous ESPNU contest has bled over into the majority of Stanford games this year. So, Bristol honchos: sell, say, five fewer ads on the game (start with the school ads, which are universally awful) or push the NCAA to make halftime three minutes shorter, whatever it takes. You're not off by much, but I am tired of missing even a second of my games! Is that Brett Musberger? He realizes this isn't Stanford vs. Oregon in football, right? More importantly, will he find any Stanford undergrads worthy of the "Miss Alabama" Katherine Webb treatment? Before Webb, there was Jenn Sterger, and I hear good things come in threes.
Fun stat: Oregon was 7-0 in Pac-12 play in football too before running into Stanford.
Dwight Powell with a lay-in and Chasson Randle with a corner three. Maples appears the loudest that it's been since the Lopez days. Randle with a floater to give us our first lead, 7-6. We have several offensive rebounds and won 50/50 balls, won a 50/50 whistle (called Oregon travel, and not a defensive foul), and got an Oregon big a little banged up. Randle just hit another three, and it's 10-6 Stanford. On the heels of writing a three-part, painfully thorough statistical analysis of the team that left me pretty upbeat, and the way we look early tonight, I think this is an NCAA Tournament team. You read it here first.
16-minute timeout: Stanford 10, Oregon 6
Aaron Bright with a three. Our guards are refinding their strokes! I can hardly keep up as it's an 11-0 run. Hey, no complaints. (This is petty, but does anyone else find Bill Walton's voice deeply grating?) Now it's John Gage with a three and an angry Oregon coach needs a timeout. Gage with a foot-on-the-line two. Stanford is 4-of-6 deep and that's the difference as it's 20-8 early.
Now, offense is sexier, but I would be remiss not to note a new zone-heavy look for Stanford. It appears to be working because Oregon has had to stop in its tracks on multiple dribble-drive penetrations and reset their O without success. Meanwhile, it's Oregon with a missed dunk – a nice change in karma for the men in Cardinal and White – and Gage who draws another foul down low. Keep it going, boys!
12-minute timeout: Stanford 20, Oregon 10
If we do hang on here, how high do we leap on Oregon's most-hated rival list? We don't pass Oregon State. We don't pass Washington, right? Maybe it's another USC-Stanford like rivalry. We could use one of those in the Pac-12 North. (As an out-of-towner and younger alum without the years of Big Game history, Cal never did it for me, sorry.)
Oregon's only losses have come in triple overtime to UTEP (stat guru KenPom's No. 103 team) and No. 18 Cincinnati, 77-66. They have won their last seven by single digits, however, suggesting something of a paper tiger. (Indeed, they're No. 23 to KenPom, but No. 10 to the AP.)
Minutes after calling him "Randle Chasson", Musberger says Stanford has a history of strong recruiting out of Montana, especially in football. Heck of a find if true, and now I'm curious: Who?
Josh Huestis, who got the Montana conversation started, makes a free throw, we have turnovers on both ends, and Oregon misses an open three to keep us at 23-16, Stanford. It does bear mentioning, and repeating, that Oregon's point guard, Dominic Artis, is out injured tonight. Then again, Anthony Brown is crying crocodile tears.
A sloppy four minutes of play, and if not for some Oregon misses, Stanford could be in a little trouble. But, hey, look: we're still winning!
Eight-minute timeout: Stanford 23, Oregon 16
That is one "Grizzly" Andrew Zimmermann in the front row, with a "Hunting for Ducks" motif going with two shirtless friends. Walton is droning on about the Grateful Dead and Musberger has to cut him off mid- (run-on) sentence to bring us back to the game. Love it. Huestis with a slam off a Powell miss. Stanford is +3 in rebounds early, after David Lombardi highlighted rebounding margin as a topic of conversation in the midweek presser. The Cardinal have six assists to four turnovers, while Oregon has two assists to six turnovers. These two squads are Nos. 1 and 2 in the conference in free throw shooting percentage, and both teams are now on the verge of the bonus.
After the number crunching, I've concluded he's the best player on the roster this season. Still, Dwight Powell is too creative by half near the hoop, after just airballing from maybe three feet out on a reverse layup attempt. As Walton said, what's the last time he made that shot? Oregon, meanwhile, just missed the front end of a one-and-one and now missed another free throw. They're also 0-of-6 on threes, many of them open. We won't complain.
Four-minute timeout: Stanford 27, Oregon 19
Baseball's Joe Morgan's daughter is on our gymnastics team? Warriors' owner Joe Lacob has an MBA and season tickets? Who knew?
29-21 after Oregon finally catches a bounce on a pull-up free-throw extended J. One thing we're doing really well today is shot distribution. Randle has five attempts, but our next-most frequent shooters are all bigs – Powell, Huestis, Gage and Brown in that order. Notably, Aaron Bright, who has a pretty stroke but a poor shooting percentage this year, has three assists to only one shot attempt. I call for exactly that style of play in the forthcoming number-crunching writeups, because to a man, our best shooters on this team are the bigs. And, sure enough, Stanford is 46 percent overall and 50 percent deep tonight against a strong defensive team, despite a poor start from Powell.
Powell misses two free throws, Oregon responds with a missed free throw of their own, and then Brown hits an outside shot. Bright tests me with an out-of-control scoop attempt, but there is Powell with the tip. Shout outs to Brook Lopez for making the All-Star team and Stanford's four ex-coaches on the Niners' sideline come Sunday. Great publicity and a good day for Stanford fans with Maples rocking.
Andy Brown banks a hook as we lead by 13(!), 35-22, and after Oregon's tenth turnover of the half, we have an opportunity at the last look of the half. Walton says Dawkins is as animated as he's ever seen him. Alas, Randle is stripped, but Oregon hits back iron on a half-courter and that's halftime.
Halftime: Stanford 35, Oregon 22