Card Return To Maples, Face Road-Weary Lions

After a few days off to enjoy the Christmas break and bask in the glow of a big road win over a top-ten team, Stanford goes back to work at Maples Pavilion.

On Monday, the Cardinal host Arkansas-Pine Bluff for an 8 p.m. tilt on The Farm. For Stanford (7-3), it’s the final game of the 2014 calendar year and a final tune-up before Pac-12 play begins on Friday.

The last time the Card took the court, they came away with an impressive 74-71 overtime win over the ninth-ranked Texas Longhorns. Guards Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown tag-teamed Texas for 47 points. Randle’s stepback jumper with ten seconds left in overtime proved to be a dagger that stuck. Among other feats against the Longhorns, Brown was a perfect four-for-four from beyond the arc.

The Card front line was also busy. Despite facing a team that led the nation in rebounding margin, Stanford outhustled Texas for critical rebounds at critical times. Reid Travis led the board patrol, snatching 14 rebounds and using his tenacity to give the Cardinal second-chance opportunities. Stefan Nastic spent much of his afternoon in foul trouble, but still paced Stanford’s efforts. Grant Verhoeven held his own during eight key minutes on the floor.

The win at Texas—combined with an Arizona loss to UNLV (a team Stanford destroyed in November)—made last Tuesday a very good day for Stanford hoops. The Cardinal will try to keep flying high against a team that has already racked up the frequent flier miles this season.

From the SWAC conference, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3-10, #216 RPI) has played 13 games so far; none in its own arena. Johnny Cash would like these Golden Lions, because they’ve been everywhere, man. Their schedule has already taken them to exotic locales like Hawaii, Michigan (twice), Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and Las Vegas.

When they walk into Maples Pavilion, they will have already traveled nearly 19,000 miles on the year. The Lions finally have a home game this Saturday against Mississippi Valley State.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff’s 61-56 overtime win at Houston on December 17 was their first over a power conference foe in four seasons. On December 6, Michigan State handled UAPB in East Lansing, 85-52. Last week, the Lions split two games at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, knocking off Southern Utah (70-61) and losing to Abilene Christian (69-61).

Much like the Cardinal, Arkansas-Pine Bluff has shown a knack for turning potential routs into competitive games. Against Southern Utah, the Lions stormed back from a 15-point first-half deficit to win. Two nights later, the Lions turned a 12-point halftime hole into a 52-51 lead with 6:47 left before going cold the rest of the way.

Entering the week, Marcel Mosley led the SWAC in points per game (17.5). The senior guard put up 25 points on Southern Utah, and dropped a career-high 33 points in Houston. Senior guard Tevin Hammond led UAPB’s charge against Abilene Christian, scoring 19 of his 20 points in the second half.

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