The Stanford Cardinal come into tonight's first round Pac-10 Tournament game looking to do something no other team has been able to accomplish in the league's postseason extravaganza – win four games in four days to be crowned champions of one of the elite conferences in all the land. Tonight, the #9 seed Cardinal (17-12, 6-12 in league play) looks to begin its march into the history books as it takes on a team it has had much trouble with this season, the #8 seed Oregon State Beavers (13-16, 7-11).
Despite having lost to Oregon State twice this year (77-62 at Stanford and 66-54 at Corvallis) fans and pundits alike can almost certainly point to a certain 18:40 stretch over those two games which buried the Cardinal. In that time, encompassing the start of the game at Maples Pavilion and the beginnings of each half at Gill Coliseum, Stanford was outscored 50-8 by Oregon State. They were down 16-2, 5:40 into the game at home, behind 25-6, 10:49 through the start of the game in Corvallis, and quickly let the Beavers score nine in a row over the first 2:11 of the second stanza in Corvallis to increase a 12-point halftime advantage to 21. Without these holes, the Cardinal outscored OSU by just 12, 103-91, but the points per minute were nearly halved in the remaining parts of these two games, a critical statistic Stanford must keep in check to be able to win tonight's game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Oregon State comes into tonight's game having lost three in a row, dropping contests at Oregon, UCLA, and USC by at least 10 points each. They are led by a trio of strong players, including sophomore Calvin Haynes who is leading the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per contest, junior Roland Schaftenaar, tallying 9.8 points per game, and junior Seth Tarver, who nets 8.1 points in each of his games. This trio scored well above their average (32.3) against Stanford, getting 62 of their team's 77 points in their first meeting and 50 of the 66 the Beavers notched in their win at home. As a team, Oregon State shoots 46% from the floor, 35% beyond the arc, and 65% at the free throw line. Opponents shoot 45% from the floor and 35% from the three-point line. Opponents outrebound the Beavers by a margin of 2.2 per game, commit 0.6 less turnovers per game, and block about half a shot more each contest.
Stanford, on the other hand, brings a renewed sense of optimism after a
disappointing Pac-10 season, having won two of its last three games, including a
stirring Senior Night win over USC, 75-63 and a surprising road win at Top 25
ranked Arizona State, 74-64. However, the Cardinal still have a bad taste
in their mouths after losing at Arizona, 101-87, in a game where the Wildcats
exploited the inconsistent Stanford defense to the tune of 70% shooting from the
floor, fending off all possible runs by Stanford with their hot shooting and
possibly setting the psyche of the Cardinal back just a bit as they head into
tonight's game. The Cardinal are led by their own triumvirate of players,
senior Anthony Goods, who leads the team with 15.7 points per game, senior
Lawrence Hill, who nets 13.6 points per contest, and junior Landry Fields, who
averages 12.6 each time out on the floor for Stanford. As a team, Stanford
shoots 46% from the floor, 39% beyond the arc, and 71% at the free throw
line. Opponents shoot 48% from the floor and 36% from the three-point
line. Opponents outrebound the Cardinal by a margin of 0.6 per game,
commit 2.4 less turnovers per game, and block about 0.7 more shots each
For Stanford to win this evening, they will have to get off to a better start, which should boost their confidence, and they will have to shut down, or at least contain, the threesome the Beavers bring to the floor. Without executing on both of these objectives, it could be a very long night for Stanford, but a very short tournament for a team which shows a pulse of a squad ready to break out and potentially make some very loud noise in Los Angeles this weekend. With a victory, Stanford would get a chance to avenge another pair of losses they suffered this year as the winner of tonight's game will take on the #1 seeded Washington Huskies in the Pac-10 Quarterfinals at 2:30pm tomorrow. If Johnny Dawkins and his senior-laden team can shake off and learn from their last loss versus Arizona, plus take in all the lessons they garnered from their losses to Oregon State, the chances of the Cardinal continuing on at the Staples Center look favorable .
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