March 4, 2012; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal forward Josh Owens (13) holds onto a rebound against the California Golden Bears in the first half at the Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal defeated the Bears 75-70. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
Stanford basketball is sure finishing off their season right. A whipping of Nevada punched their ticket back to Madison Square Garden.
Stanford got a huge assist by nailing their threes and keeping Nevada from hitting theirs. Chasson Randle, Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis knocked down two triples each and the Cardinal were an efficient 8 for 14 shooting from downtown. But it was ball control where Stanford really shined, forcing Nevada into 15 turnovers and only eight assists. The Cardinal, by contrast, put together an efficient 17 assists and nine turnovers, and it was all about balance offensively.
The Cardinal dominated the Wolf Pack from the opening tip. In improving to 24-11, Johnny Dawkins's squad was efficient and balanced on the offensive end and took a 15-point lead into halftime. Four Stanford players finished in double-figures, led by Josh Owens and freshman sensation Chasson Randle with 15 apiece. Josh Huestis added 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench and Aaron Bright stayed hot with 10 points on only four shots in 21 minutes.
Stanford's three point offense (57.1% shooting for the Cardinal) and two point defense (45.1% shooting for Nevada) have been the keys to their success, and it was critical again last night. Stanford overran Nevada with their balance and athleticism, and gave the Pac-12 a preview of what they might face in the upcoming years if they can learn to be strong at shooting from all areas of the floor.
With Washington on the other side of the Final Four, The possibility of an all Pac-12 NIT championship is well within reach. This is probably not what Larry Scott had in mind when he wanted to put the conference on the cutting edge, but it's a start.