Stanford (9-4, 0-1) at Oregon St. (8-6, 0-2) / Gill Coliseum / 7 PM / Pac-12 Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. returns home after their Rocky Mountain road trip to open the Pac-12 season for their conference home games this season against the Bay area schools, starting with Stanford.
This weekend is the only time the schools from the state of Oregon will meet the Bay area teams during the regular season, a product of the Pac-12 schedule rotation when 2 pairs of schools do not meat twice in a given season on a rotating basis. This year, the Beavers get both of those over in the first 2 weekends of the season.
The Beavers lost both stops on their trip last weekend, 64-58 at Colorado, and then 80-69 at Utah, and the biggest culprit was turnovers. Oregon St. turned the ball over 32 times, and was -10 in Boulder and -7 in Salt Lake City in turnover margin.
Another issue was the disappearance of front-court scoring support. Roberto Nelson had 23 points against the Buffs, but no other Beavers were in double figures. Nelson added another 16 against the Utes, but the entire starting of front court of Devon Collier, Eric Moreland, and Angus Brandt combined for only 16 more.
As a result, Oregon St. head coach Craig Robinson is considering inserting Cooke into the starting lineup. At the very least, expect an expanded role for him.
The Cardinal only had 1 game last weekend, losing at home to cross-bay rival California 69-62. Losing both of their big men, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic, who both fouled out late in the game, led to the Bears outscoring Stanford 15-6 in the last 4 minutes to come from behind for the win.
Powell, who is Stanford's second leading scorer and rebounder, as well as their assist leader, had 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Chason Randall, who leads the Cardinal in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game, added 15.
Anthony Brown added 14 points, and Josh Huestis, Stanford's leading rebounder, matched his season average of 8 boards.
Of note, Huestis played the entire game, and Powell would have had he not fouled out in the final minute. Randall also logged 39 minutes, and Brown 36, and Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins uses his bench very sparingly, especially beyond Johnny Gage. A season ending injury to guard Aaron Bright in November contributed considerably to shorting up the rotation.
It worked well when the Cardinal handed then 10th ranked Connecticut their first loss of the season on the Huskies' own floor, for Stanford's most notable win of the season, but getting any member of the Cardinal rotation in foul trouble can be a critical strategic development in any game situation.
Last year, with many of the same players, Stanford swept Oregon St., winning 81-73 in Palo Alto in early February, and again 82-72 2 1/2 weeks later in the rematch at Gill. It was part of a disaster for the Beavers against the Bay area schools, as they were swept in both series.
Randle matched Nelson for high point honors in the first game, as both posted 20 point nights, while Huestis had a 16 point, 13 rebound double double.
Six Stanford players combined to hit 14 of 25 3 point shots, 56%, as the Beavers were struggling as much as they did at any time in defending the perimeter shot at that point (and Oregon St. has had a persistent problem in this area), and then the Cardinal made 8 consecutive free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
Nelson lit things up with a game high 28 points in the rematch, and Moreland had an 11 point, 11 rebound double double for the Beavers, but Huestis had another double double, this time 20 points and 11 boards, and Powell had one too, going for 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Dawkins was going almost exclusively with his starters then too, and all 5 were in double figures in Gill. It was a close, competitive game all the way, with the final 10 point margin the largest margin of the game.
Stanford has had Oregon St.'s number of late though, sweeping the season the last 2 years, which has whittled the Beavers all-time edge down to 71-66.
The Beavers will need to improve both their perimeter defense and their inside offense if they are to snap their 4 game losing streak against the Cardinal.