Stanford was flying high out of the locker room Tuesday night, still on an emotional high from their victory Saturday night in the Pit. All signs were favorable with a home matchup against Southern Utah, a team that made the tournament last year but lost four starters over the offseason. Then the ball was tipped and all of the moment came to a crashing halt. Southern Utah played an aggressive style of defense and made this game interesting, never letting Stanford pull away and hitting on some very tough shots. When it was all said and done Stanford walked out with an 81-63 victory but the game was much closer than the score.
The game started very slow with it being 6-5 Stanford after five minutes of play. The game then went back and forth for the next ten minutes with neither team grasping the game, or getting a lead of five points. Stanford seemed very confused with Southern Utahs 1-1-3 zone defense, which was evident by Caseys struggles in the first 15 minutes and by the number of turnovers and near turnovers they had. But for the last five minutes of the half Stanford made a run and pushed the lead to 12 points on a Joe Kirchofer tip shot to end the half. In the second half the lead was cut to 10 points with 8:58 to play but was never closer. The team seemed to play lethargic at times and threw a lot of passes away. This was partly due to the officiating which made many bad calls for each side and never letting this game to have any sort of flow. Stanford did push the lead to 18 with free throws in the final minute and walked out with a victory of the same margin.
This game also had its great moments. Justin Davis had two alley-oop dunks and Curtis Borchardt had two dunks of his own. Josh Childress continued to impress, with 13 points of his own and many fine plays on the defensive end. He gives Stanford what they have desperately needed for years, which is an athletic wing player who can defend. Casey was his usual self after his early game slump and finished with 23 points to lead Stanford. Dan Beus, who I warned, people about in my preview played his best game of his career. He scored 23 points for the game and gave Stanford fits on defense. He had a great jump shot and hit a couple threes to go with his many jumpers. He also attacked the glass and picked up many rebounds to give his team some more chances.
Curtis had his second double-double in as many games and is proving he is going to be a force this season. He is long and wiry and seems to get his hands on the ball off the rim the strong majority of the time. He is drawing the defense in the post, which has given Childress room to roam and perform in the open court. Davis had his highlight reel plays but was on the bench a lot again due to his foul trouble. He picks up a lot of touchy fouls for simply being overaggressive at times, something that I am sure he will fix throughout the year. He also continues to run the floor well, which gives Tony many options on the transition. Speaking of Tony his second game was not great but he did provide some good transition baskets off great feeds. He seems to becoming into own a little bit more in every game and is making some nice passes. Hernandez also got some playing time at the point but seemed overwhelmed a little bit in his home debut.
Overall I didnt come out of this game to excited. I felt the team played a solid game but is capable of playing much better. I guess this is just on of the things one has to get used to with this team is that it will have its off nights and will produce many more turnovers than we have been used to. The win pushes Stanfords record to 2-0 and sets up a huge matchup in Indianapolis against Purdue where all 19,000 fans should be behind the Boilermakers. Last year in this tournament Purdue knocked off then number 1 Arizona. But then again so did New Mexico!