Stanford Hoops Hopes To Unpack A Win

Hoping to find the right combination for their first road win of the season, the Cardinal face a tall task deep in the heart of Texas.

Stanford basketball was unable to get a road win in its first two tries this season. The Cardinal hope the third time will be the charm on Tuesday against ninth-ranked Texas.

Stanford (6-3) will go to work on that goal against the Longhorns, with a 4 p.m. Pacific tipoff from Austin. Thanks to their demolition of UNLV, the Cardinal do have a win away from Maples Pavilion, but it came on a neutral court in Brooklyn.

The Cardinal began their current road trip with a 79-77 loss at BYU on Saturday. Both halves followed a similar pattern, with Stanford down by double digits before rallying. In the first half, the Cardinal turned a 32-22 hole into a 33-32 lead in the final minute. The second half saw the Card nearly erase a second-half 13-point deficit with 4:20 left. However, Chasson Randle’s attempt at a game-winner clanked off the rim at the buzzer.

Randle finished with 24 points, while Stefan Nastic added 20 points and nine rebounds. Dorian Pickens started in place of Rosco Allen.

The comforting news is that the Cardinal have not quit after finding themselves down big. The troubling news is that playing from behind has become a way of life for the Card. Stanford has trailed by at least 11 points in four straight games. That trend isn’t exactly conducive to consistent winning.

The Cardinal will try to avoid being on the wrong end of a big lead for a fifth straight game, but it will not be easy against a Texas team that has largely looked like a top-ten team so far.

The Longhorns’ lone loss this year is an eight-point decision to Kentucky on December 5. No other team has come as close to beating the Wildcats this year. The way Kentucky is playing, no other team may come as close to beating the Wildcats the rest of the way.

On Saturday, Texas trailed Long Beach State by three points in the second half, but rallied for a 78-68 win. Longhorn guard Javan Felix came off the bench to score 17 points, and Texas blocked eight shots. The Longhorns’ 55-54 win over UConn was the first time in 13 years that a non-conference opponent had won in Storrs. Texas also allowed just 27 points in a laugher over Texas State.

Entering the week, Texas leads the nation in rebounding margin, and is fourth nationally in blocks per game. No team has shot better than 38.7% against the Longhorns so far.

Junior forward Jonathan Holmes leads the Longhorns in points per game (12.5) and rebounds per game (6.9). His three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left proved to be the game-winner against UConn. Junior forward Connor Lammert is coming off his first double-double of the year, while junior center Cameron Ridley has been steady. Off the bench, freshman forward Myles Turner already has 32 blocked shots this season.

However, the eyes of Texas are upon sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor’s broken wrist. Taylor suffered the injury in a win over Iowa one month ago, but all current indications have him ready to go when the Longhorns open Big 12 play late next week. In the meantime, Felix and sophomore guard Kendal Yancy have run the show.

While Texas has still won seven of eight games since Taylor's injury, the Longhorns have coughed up the ball at an alarming rate without him. On average, Texas commits 14 turnovers per game. They coughed it up 15 times against Long Beach State; nine of them came in the second half.

Stanford has shown the ability to clamp down on defense, become assertive, and force errors from the opposition. To get their first road win of the season, the Cardinal will need to continue its turnover touch, hold its own on the boards, and put together its most cohesive effort since the UNLV win. Stanford hopes those items result in something it hasn’t experience yet this season: a happy plane flight out of town.

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