And 1: Oklahoma State 71, Stanford 70

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's final rally fizzled at the end of a 71-70 defeat to the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Wednesday evening.

Another game, another heartbreaking loss.  Rallying from a 15-point deficit, the Stanford Cardinal were one Andrew Zimmermann field goal away from knocking off the Oklahoma State Cowboys.  Of the 18 losses over the past two seasons, seven of them have been decided by one possession or have gone to overtime and a few others were decided in the final minute.  What can we take away from this most recent crushing defeat?

First and most importantly, this team has no quit in them.  Oklahoma State looked to be on the verge of icing the game on a handful of occasions, yet the Farm Boys always found a way to stay within striking distance.  The biggest "uh-oh" moment came when Landry Fields committed his 4th foul with 12:15 remaining and the Cardinal down 53-38, facing the largest deficit of the evening.  With their captain out of the lineup due to foul trouble, Stanford closed the gap to 61-52 in the five minutes and 20 seconds that he was on the bench.  That span from 12:15-6:55 in the second half was probably the most promising spurt of basketball played by the Cardinal this year.  While it certainly wasn't their best stretch of the season, the Cardinal showed that they can compete against top competition without their top gun. 

Jeremy Green was the main reason why the Cardinal were able to move considerably closer to the Cowboys, connecting on three three-pointers during that span en route to 19 points.  His shot selection continues to improve and he showed a great mid-range game throughout the game.  Surprisingly enough, I've heard that Jeremy was more of a mid-range shooter in high school, and the long bombs really didn't become as much a part of his game as they are now until he arrived in Palo Alto.  Although he was the second leading scorer for the Cardinal tonight, he also proved to be valuable on the glass.  His six rebounds were good for the second-highest total on the team again.  This isn't the first time he has put up good rebounding numbers either - in Monty's return to The Farm last season, Green led the team with eight boards.  If he can increase the frequency with which he has these high-volume rebound games (which is admittedly very tough to do from his position), the sky is the limit for That Texas Boy.

As much as I loved Jeremy Green's big-time threes, I was most impressed by Andrew Zimmermann tonight for the Cardinal.  You can see his confidence and comfort level grow with every game that he plays, and it looks like he is now really rounding into game shape.  Not only did he score 14 points, but the timing of his second-half buckets were HUGE.  AZ went on a 1-man 6-0 run against the Cowboys in the final two-plus minutes of the game to knock a five-point lead down to one.  Sure, he was making layups, but Zimmermann still had the confidence to make himself available for the ball and want to be that scoring option down low.  In addition to his scoring, Zimmermann took two monster charges down the stretch for the Cardinal, with his last one coming when he was defending Oklahoma State's go-to guy, James Anderson.  Picking him up 30 feet from the hoop, Andrew rushed Anderson and was in the right position to take a charge, which would set up Zimmermann's final make of the evening to cut the lead down to 69-68.

Landry Fields continues to show why he is the captain of this team.  While his teammates did cut a 15-point lead down to nine with him on the bench, Landry scored 10 of his 22 points in the final 6:15 of the game and found Andrew Zimmermann twice on nice looks down low.  And although he is not the best free-throw shooter, Landry continues to be perfect in crunch-time.  After missing two free-throws just a couple minutes before, Fields stepped up to the line with his team trailing 71-68 with 12.0 seconds to go and calmly nailed both charity stripe attempts to put the pressure on Keiton Page to make free throws for Oklahoma State (and apparently the pressure got to the 82.6% FT-shooter for the Pokes, as he missed the front end of a 1-and-1).  After the game, I talked with the Oklahoma State radio guys (great guys, by the way.  If any of you Booties are going to be in Lubbock for the Texas Tech game, they recommend going to Cagle Steaks for dinner- the ribeye is supposedly to die for!), and one of them said "well Landry will definitely be playing 82 games next year".  I couldn't agree more.  

No "And1" column would be complete without some Jarrett Mann in it.  We all know he turned the ball over nine times and was only 4-10 from the free throw line.  This was the first time that Jarrett had really faced that kind of pressure in his career.  Oklahoma State did a great job of really getting after it on the defensive end and trapping the point guard off every made bucket in the first half.  As a result, it led to some costly turnovers and easy buckets for the Cowboys.  However, Jarrett made some adjustments as the game went along and had a much more productive second half.  His dunk (I thought there was no way he was going to dunk that ball - it seems as if he hits a second-gear in mid-air!) really lit a fire underneath him and propelled him to that improved play in the latter stages of the game.  While the nine turnovers and 40% FT shooting surely weren't a good look for him, seven of those turnovers came in the first half and he made his last three free-throw attempts. 

With regards to his free-throw shooting, I think Jarrett is still looking for the right technique.  His shooting form has improved, but in talking to a couple of the guys after the game, Mann is still tweaking his mechanics as far as the positioning of his feet are concerned.  The guys noted that Jarrett shot his free-throw attempts with his left foot forward this evening, which is a change from his normal routine of shooting with the right foot in front.  Let's hope Jarrett gets this figured out, because his tenacity and ability to draw contact and get to the line is a huge asset to the team and will be even more integral once he becomes a better free-throw shooter.

One more note on this game - I was very pleased by Stanford's end-line, out-of-bounds plays underneath the Oklahoma State bucket.  On multiple occasions, the Cardinal caught the Cowboys napping and got a few easy buckets - the game started with one such play where Jeremy got free on a screen and knocked down an open 18-footer, and another time Jack Trotter was left open underneath the hoop and laid it in as he was fouled.  The common denominator in all of these in-bounds plays was that Jarrett Mann was the in-bounds passer.  He had seven assists tonight, and would have had a double-double if a player could get an assist off an in-bounds pass (why don't they?  It makes no sense- how else would Jack or Jeremy have scored?  The ball wasn't given to them by a poltergeist!).  Mann was also the passer on the genius Coach Dawkins play against Oral Roberts that gave Landry an open layup to tie the game with four seconds remaining.  Never in my five years of following Stanford basketball has this been such a positive attribute for the Cardinal.

It's off to Evanston and Lubbock now, as the Cardinal will face two huge road tests against Northwestern and Texas Tech.  Check back on for thoughtful post-game analysis from Ray Salloom just hours after the conclusion of each game.

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