And 1: Stanford 60, Washington State 58

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 battled back in the second half for a stunning 60-58 win over the Washington State Cougars on Thursday night at Maples Pavilion.

The word "quit" does not exist in the Dawkins edition of the English dictionary.  18-point deficit at three different points in the game, including with 11:44 to go in the 2nd half?  No biggy.  The Cardinal never gave up and eventually got shots to fall as they completed the biggest comeback victory in quite some time with a 60-58 nail-biter over the Palouse Cougs.  How did they do it?

The answers to that question certainly weren't found in the first 20 minutes of the game, although the first half wasn't as bad as it appeared.   Yes, the Cardinal couldn't get anything to fall from the field and weren't able to get off quality looks as well.  7-21 FG shooting and 2-6 free-throwing were not promising numbers and the 11 giveaways also didn't help the aesthetic factor.  But defensively, the Farm Boys looked alright.  I'm sure Coach Dawkins would have liked to see the Cougars' FG% be a little worse than the .464 (13-28) that it was, but the Cougars were almost always limited to one look at the hoop and only scored 33 points after 20 minutes of play.  Last year, 33 might seem like an average number for the Cougs to put up halfway through, but in the new Ken Bone system where Washington State was averaging nearly 80 ppg during the non-conference slate and scored 46 in the first half against Stanford in the Palouse, the number "33" symbolized a pretty solid defensive effort.  Although a 33-18 mark at the half in favor of the Cougs is not what Stanford wanted to see, the deficit could have been even larger if Washington State had kept pace with their season average.

The solid defensive effort only intensified in the second half, as the Cardinal began to pick up full court after made baskets (we'll get to those in just a bit) and try to trap the ballhandler in the corner near the end of the Stanford bench.  While it didn't yield steals for an easy lay-up the other way, the full court press did create one turnover at the beginning of the Stanford comeback and got Washington State off-kilter.  Kudos go to Emmanuel Igbinosa in this regard.  He more than just kept up with the quicks of Cougar Frosh Reggie Moore and harassed him all second half long.  Reggie, who had been shooting 50% in his last five games and was averaging over 14 per coming into tonight's contest, scored only five points (all in the first half) on just 1-10 FGs.  He rarely got a clean look, and Igbinosa did a GREAT job of riding him up the court on the final possession and forcing Reggie into a long and rushed shot that resulted in an airball.  We knew E-man had offense, but tonight we found out he could step it up on the other end of the court.

The solid defense allowed the Cardinal to stick around, or at least not fall behind by 30.  If Stanford could just get some shots to fall, the game would take a turn for the better…and eventually it did.  Though the Farm Boys really didn't get it going until the final 11 minutes of the game, there were signs in the beginning of the second half that the offense was starting to come around.  Stanford came out of the gates with a quick Drew Shiller three to respond to a Klay Thompson longball on the first possession of the second half.  Furthermore, the Card were doing a lot better job of holding on to the ball and getting a higher quality of a field goal attempt.  On one play, Landry was able to post his man on the left block and work for one of his patented turnaround jumpers, only it rimmed in and out. 

Additionally, Stanford was a lot more aggressive.  Jeremy was doing a great job of attacking the hoop and drawing fouls.  Although they weren't shooting fouls for the most part, they increased the team foul total and got both of the Cougars' primary post players DeAngelo Casto and James Watson into foul trouble, so much so that both seldom-used bigs Brock Motum and Steven Bjornstad saw crucial minutes in the second half.  The fouls paid direct dividends when Brock tried to take it strong to the hoop with his team up 44-36.  The result of the play?  Motum had it knocked out of his hands out of bounds by a Cardinal defender.  Think Casto would've had the same thing happen to him?

But more about the "O."  The looks were there, and they began to fall for good with a Jeremy Green three at the 11:32 mark to cut the Wazzu lead down to 44-29.  From that point on, the Stanford offense kicked it into overdrive.  Landry Fields started to get it going and wound up with 15 points.  He and Klay had a nice little back-and-forth shootout going for a little bit in the second half, where Landry at one point pulled a "anything you can do, I can do better" by knocking down a three-ball to cut the lead to 52-44 immediately after Klay connected from long distance to push the lead up to 11.  Furthermore, Da'Veed Dildy provided two extremely tough basket finishes and a crucial free throw in the final 30 seconds.

But tonight, it all started and ended with Jeremy Green.  That Texas Boy from Austin finished with 24 points on 7-13 shooting and 5-9 on long range shots and hit big shot after big shot to move the Cardinal closer.  And once they got within striking distance, Jeremy hit the daggers.  First there was that three that gave the Cardinal their first lead since 2-0.  Leading up to that play, Jeremy was calling for the ball on a couple of occasions but didn't get it (luckily, they led to four made free-throws from Igbinosa and Shiller).  Finally, after a couple of turnovers when down 52-50, Jeremy received a Fields pass on the right wing and went to town.   And for his final masterpiece, he hit the game winner with 4.6 seconds to go.  Credit Coach Dawkins on this one: on the post-game interview with Flemming and Platz, he said that he would usually take a timeout in that situation tied with 12 seconds to go, but didn't this time because Jeremy had the ball in the open court and had the faith in him to make the right play.  His decision panned out pretty well and his faith was rewarded with an 18-foot swish by the left wing from the right hand of Green.  Landry Fields also deserves a lot of credit as well for setting a monster screen on the on-ball defender to free up Jeremy for the open look.  It was definitely the screen of the game, and probably one of the most timely picks in recent Stanford Basketball history.

While the Jeremy Green Show was in full effect, this game could not have been won without the clutch free throw shooting of the Farm Boys down the stretch.  Stanford was 13-16 from the foul line in the second half and hit 7-8 in the final few minutes.  It has been the bane of the Cardinal's existence in the past, but tonight, it was their savior.

One down, one to go this weekend for the Cardinal.  Up next are the Huskies on Saturday afternoon.  The Card are undefeated at home in conference play, and UW has yet to win a road game.  Come out to Maples and cheer for these trends to continue on Saturday afternoon!

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