And 1: Stanford 83, Portland State 64

Men's Basketball Writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the Bootleg faithful a look at the game flow, stats, facts, and his keen observations after Stanford played a nearly flawless second half to defeat the Portland State Vikings on Sunday night, 83-64.

As expected, The Farm Boys took care of business Sunday night in their 83-64 win over Big Sky foe Portland State (1-4).  After Portland State went on a 23-9 run to tie it up at 36 with a little over a minute remaining in the first half, Stanford close the first 20-minute period on a 7-2 run and wouldn't let the lead get smaller than four the rest of the way.  Above .500 for the second time this season, Stanford is now 4-3 and have won three of their last four games.

The last 10 seconds of the first half was turning point where the momentum started to tip back in Stanford's favor and proved to be a bad omen for the Vikings in the second half.  With Stanford clinging on to a 39-38 lead, Melvin Jones stole a Drew Shiller pass and Portland State had a 2-on-1 breakaway.  With Phil Nelson running well ahead of him on the right wing, Melvin found the UW transfer, who had an open lane and an uncontested lay-up…if he could have held on to the ball.  As Nelson went up, the ball slipped out of his hands and went out of bounds.  Stanford ball with 4.3 seconds to go.  That was only the beginning of the good luck for Stanford, as Trotter's end-line-out-of-bounds pass trailed over to the Viking bench.  Appearing to have gone out of bounds, none of the Vikings in the vicinity touched the basketball, which allowed Da'Veed Dildy to swoop in and drive to the hoop, getting fouled with 2.0 seconds left.  Outraged at the pass not being ruled out of bounds, the Viking bench drew a technical foul, sending Shiller to the line to shoot a pair before Dildy's freebies.  However, they were anything but freebies for the Cardinal, as Shiller hit one of two and Dildy missed both.  Julius Thomas attempted to collect the rebound for the Vikings, but felt some pressure on his back and lost the ball out of bounds with 1.3 seconds to go.  On the ensuing inbounds pass, Fields got open on the right wing and nailed a 22-footer as the buzzer sounded, sending the Cardinal into the locker with a five-point lead.  From there, the Cardinal offense really took off, as the guys converted 11 of their 12 field goal attempts en route to 69.6% shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes.

The player of the game for me was Matei Daian.  With Elliott Bullock injured and out for Sunday night's contest, Matei was the first and only big man on the bench for Stanford and had to give positive minutes for the Card in order to be successful.  Daian did more than just play positively; he made big statements on both the offensive and defensive ends.   As soon as he came into the game, Matei hit a lay-up off a beautiful pass from Jack Trotter, showing nice touch by using his left hand and laying it up softly off the glass.  Shortly thereafter, the Romanian stood his ground on defense and forced a Melvin Jones airball runner.  In the second half, Matei showed off one the most impressive moves we have seen from him in his 14-month career on the Farm.  With his back to the basket three feet away from the hoop, Daian faked right and went left to get an open look at the hoop and finish with his left hand again.  Matei would finish with six points (a career high) and one rebound.  For as long as Bullock is out, Matei is going to have to continue to give big minutes to the Stanford front line as the Cardinal are now down to three big bodies for the time being.

It was again easy to be impressed by Landry Fields and Jeremy Green.  Fields broke out of a mini-slump from long distance with his first half 22-foot buzzer beater and only attempted one other three-pointer from the game.  He also hit some nice mid range jumpers and of course was impressive in getting to the hoop (as always).  Fields finished with 25, but with Stanford putting up 83 instead of 65 or 57 like they did in Cancun, it did not feel as he was one of the only major sources for points.  He was also credited with five rebounds (six by my count!), three assists, and three steals (one of them resulting in a breakaway dunk for sir Landry).  On the other hand, Jeremy Green continued his hot shooting as he made good on five of his eight three-point attempts and finished the game with 19 points on 7-11 shooting overall.  What was most delightful about Jeremy's game was his shot selection- he really did not rush anything offensively and took smart field goal attempts, and as a result, he shot over 60% from both two- and three-point range.

The play of Jarrett Mann cannot be ignored as well.  Playing as true to the point guard position as possible, the Delaware product finished with two points and eight assists, dropping dimes all over the Vikings.  He once again did a good job of running the offense and getting into the lane.  Although he did not go to the hoop as much as he did against Virginia and Kentucky, he forced Viking perimeter defenders to collapse on him, which freed guys like Green and Shiller for open looks outside.  Mann's best dime of the game came in the second half- on the right wing about 23 feet away from the hoop, Jarrett found a cutting Fields and hit him with a diagonal bounce pass on the left block that went right by the back of Julius Thomas' right leg.  The delivery was perfect and it led to an easy lay-up for Landry.  The four turnovers Mann had, for the most part, were not a result of him trying to find something that wasn't there- he slipped and got called for a travel on one possession and had the ball slip out of his hands on another.  They really weren't mistakes forced by Viking pressure and just freak occurrences.  He also finished with five rebounds, and that will continue to be something Jarrett needs to do as we need all five guys on the floor rebounding defensively. 

There weren't too many rebounds to be had in this game with both teams shooting at least 50%, but Stanford did win the battle on the boards, 26-25.  While Portland State is not known for their rebounding prowess (in fact, 25 rebounds in a game is their average for the season), it is always good to see Stanford outrebound an opponent and all 10 Cardinal who played in the game recorded at least one rebound.  The highest board totals for Stanford came from Fields and Mann, who had five apiece.  Post players Trotter, Zimmermann, and Daian did not have a lot of rebounds, but that is more because of the fact that Jamie Jones could not miss on the low block (his lefty baby hook was unstoppable- he should be playing in the WCC at least) and also because most of Portland State's shots came from the perimeter.  24 of Portland State's 52 field goal attempts were from beyond the arc, and they had quite a few other shots from just inside the international line.  As coaches will love to tell you, a long shot leads to a long rebound, increasing the importance of "littles" to get on the boards and be a factor in that department.

Above everything else, the most positive sign we saw on the floor from the Cardinal was how well they played TEAM BASKETBALL.  The reason why Stanford shot almost 70% from the floor was because the ball movement around the perimeter was superb and post-entry passes were very solid as well.  23 assists, 8 turnovers - I don't care who you play, that is an impressive team assist-to-turnover ratio against anyone.  Furthermore, Portland State led the Big Sky in steals per game as a team last season and forced 13 per game in their first four contests.  Compare that to Portland State's 11 assists and 16 turnovers, and it is easy to see that Stanford did a much better job of playing as a cohesive unit.

The guys are off for two weeks now, with their next game on December 13 against the UC Davis Aggies out of the Big West Conference.  Until then, visit TheBootleg.com for player interviews with Gabriel Harris, Andy Brown, and more Pac-10 weekly roundups!

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