Stanford may be running out of games in the 2016-17 season but the Cardinal is rounding into shape and slowly figuring out some reliable paths to success. Converting turnovers and pounding the post have proven to be two such paths, and Oregon State had no luck stopping either in a 79-66 Cardinal rout that would have included a bigger margin were it not for a game-ending onset of boredom on the part of Stanford.
There is no mistaking who the Cardinal’s bell cow is, and Stanford once more worked to make #FeedReid a trending hashtag. The Beavers had the size and the scrap to fight with Travis, but not the skill. Stanford’s power forward had 17 points on 8-11 shooting and eight rebounds as both he and to a lesser extent Michael Humphrey did a great job all night sprinting down the floor for early post position.
It may be a finer point that hasn’t resulted in as many wins as either the team or the fans would like, but a key to Travis’ ascent this year has been the Cardinal’s significantly increased ability to make clean, crisp, and timely post-entry passes. Stanford blasted Oregon State 46-22 on points in the paint.
The other key to Stanford’s lane dominance has been Marcus Allen’s ability to leverage his tremendous burst and finishing ability at the rim. Allen matched Travis’ 17 points as well as his efficiency (7-11 shooting). He also played a role in the other key to Stanford’s victory: forcing turnovers.
Stanford had 13 steals that helped the Cardinal force 21 turnovers and create a 26-13 advantage in points off those turnovers. Stanford has emerged as a team that regularly creates turnovers and they didn’t need their 3-2 zone tonight to do it. The Cardinal was active afoot and with their hands getting into Beaver passing lanes.
Oregon State is not a good team, and nobody is pretending otherwise. However, Stanford posted an efficiency rating on offense of 111.3 and defense of 93. Both of these are better than the D-1 average of 103. The Cardinal wasn’t perfect tonight, and their endgame lapse made the game competitive far longer than it needed to be. However, Stanford needed a strong performance before Senior Saturday against Oregon, and that’s what it got.
Saturday is Stanford’s last regular season chance to beat an elite team. They showed significant improvement in a return date with Arizona after being blown off the Maples floor the first time out. Stanford was beaten by the Ducks in Eugene when the two teams played on January 21. On Saturday, if Stanford takes the twin roads of powerful post play and converting turnovers, they may be able to do more than just narrow the margin against a top ten team. They may be looking at the first signature win of the Jerod Haase Era.