Not to pick on the kid, who I am sure is playing his heart out, but a game after a night with five turnovers and zero assists, Josh Huestis just lost his fourth would-be rebound of this contest. Fire up that JUGS machine, as I mentioned in the first half, for hanging onto the ball has to be his No. 1 offseason developmental priority.
Statistically, Dwight Powell does a great job of drawing fouls. He draws whistles on 5.5 percent of his possessions, in the top 150 of players nationally, and over a full percent better than any of his fellow Stanford starters. To the eyeballs, Powell's hangtime is a large reason why, as he can linger in the air for an extra second to generate contact with a defender who otherwise would have gotten away with the slightest of mistimed jumps.
Aaron Bright dribble penetrates only to have to stop about 12 feet from the hoop and find a teammate to bail him out far too often. Whether it's on Bright, or other players not cutting where they should, or an unavoidable function of Bright's height, I will leave to the experts.
In the early parts of the season, I called for a Stanford player to distinguish himself from his peers. Dwight Powell has. After missing much of the first 20 minutes with two fouls, Powell has returned and Stanford has won the first four-plus minutes of the second half 8-2. The Cardinal now lead 40-33 at the 16-minute mark.
I would love for Andy Brown to get more run. Entering tonight, he averages 56 percent of Stanford's minutes on the season, least of any starter by a sizeable margin. On a team that has trouble with loose balls, Brown is the team leader in steals on a per possession basis, and just went to the floor to draw a possession arrow call.
Law of Averages
Stanford's soft play wasn't going to continue the whole game, and it hasn't. The Cardinal are on pace to cut their turnovers from 10 in the first half to five in the second half, and after -4 rebounding in the first 20 minutes are +1 in the second half. Thus was the genesis of Stanford's early second-half run, leading to the Card's biggest advantage thus far at 43-33.
Of course, the law of averages dictated that Colorado's shooting had to pick up too, and it has. After hitting just one three in the 25 preceding minutes, the Buffs have two threes in the last few minutes. The last of those threes was contested and came via Andre Roberson with a second left on the shot clock, but it's hard for Stanford to complain about bad luck after Colorado's first-half shooting.
Christian Sanders enters for Aaron Bright with 10 minutes left in the second half and a one-point Cardinal lead. Walton says "uh oh" in about 50 words. We'll see. Sure enough, it's a Colorado three and their first lead since 2-0, 47-45. Huestis misses on a would-be answer. Chasson Randle misses a wide-open alley-oop layup. All told, it's a 7-0 spurt since Sanders entered for Bright, and an 18-2 Colorado run(!) all told.
Randle hits an NBA length three to stop the bleeding, but Colorado will lead 51-48 entering the final eight minutes. Colorado's Roberson has two of the Buffs' threes and 18 total points on 8-of-10 overall shooting.
Colorado to the Rack (3x)
A 55-50 game with 5:20 left and both teams about to enter the one-and-one? Here's betting that whatever happens at the free throw line goes a long way toward deciding the final outcome. Andy Brown, now 6-of-8 with three offensive boards, goes over the smaller sabatino chen for an and-one and Chen's fourth foul. But Colorado comes back with a drive, like always, to their right and an emphatic flush. Powell has a tip flush of his own, but Xavier Johnson gets to the rim for the layup and the foul.
All told, the game has hit crunch time, the pace has picked up and Colorado penetrated off the dribble three possessions in a row. All three times going to the right too, if memory serves. Not a good sign, whatever the outcome tonight. The Buffs lead 59-55 at the under-four timeout.
Stanford trails 59-55 with 3:43 to go after Randle gets a questionable whistle on what looked to be a tied-up ball. Randle misses the front end of the one-and-one. Walton: "Oh my gosh." Ouch.
Roberson, going to his right, now has 22 after a layup. Ouch.
Bright misses a layup. Ouch. Colorado runs clock, up 61-55, with 2:38 left.
After misses on both sides, Powell is fouled shooting a J. He makes both to pull Stanford within 61-57 with 1:47 to play. Walton complains that Powell, for being the best player on the team, doesn't get enough touches, and specifically calls out the coaching staff.
Xavier Johnson misses an open three. Huestis tips in Powell's missed J to halve the deficit to 61-59 Buffs with 56 seconds to play.
Colorado goes too vanilla on their offense to my liking, but with the shot clock running down, Dinwiddie gets Powell in the air and gets the layup. The Buffs then get a technical for slapping a ball away, which is beyond huge! Stanford will waste no time, have a chance to get both of those points back, and then have the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Bright splits a pair to pull Stanford within 63-60. Between Randle's missed front end and Bright's miss, that's three points Stanford has left on the court down the stretch.
Down three with 15 seconds left, Powell drew a double team and had Bright wide open for the three but never looked back, instead forcing up an ugly attempt. Colorado rebounds and Roberson, a 51 percent shooter, makes both of his free throws to put the Buffs up 65-60. Randle is trapped and has to squander precious seconds, but finds Andy Brown in the corner for a three with 4.7 seconds left. Colorado will be in a one-and-one with a lot of poor free throw shooters, but managed to inbound it to Spencer Dinwiddie, their one good free throw shooter.
Dinwiddie misses the front end of the one-and-one, so Stanford has 2.2 seconds with the ball near half court. Make that 2.4 seconds after a lengthy review made possible by a CU timeout. Thanks, Colorado.
Where's Nick Robinson when you need him? Instead, Powell receives at the three-point line, drives and dunks, but with minus-0.3 seconds on the clock. Where's the floater you need it? Where's the jumper? Could any player catch with his back to the basket, turn, drive from the three-point line and dunk in 2.4 seconds without a defender, let alone in a late-game situation? I suspect not, which makes the decision to drive and dunk that much more frustrating. As is, Colorado hangs on for the 65-63 victory. Stanford drops to 16-13, 7-9 in Pac-12 play.
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