STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Dwight Powell keeps getting better and showing he's healthier than ever. That's great news for Stanford.
Powell, who was slowed early last year with an ankle sprain, scored a career-high 29 points in helping Stanford beat Denver 71-58 Sunday.
Powell helped the Cardinal (6-3) dominate in the paint, where Stanford outscored the Pioneers 36-20.
"One of our focuses has been to use our size," Powell said. "Hit the post, look for the cutters and try to get some easy shots."
Powell finished 10-13 from the field and made 9-11 free throws while grabbing five boards in 33 minutes.
"He's still developing but we're beginning to figure out what we'll get from him every night and he's started to find that consistency," Cardinal head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "He showed flashes as a freshman and now I think we'll be seeing more games like this from him."
Josh Huestis grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, his second double-figure rebounding game of the year. He's averaging a team best 8.1.
Royce O'Neale scored 17 points for the Pioneers (1-5), who lost their fourth straight.
"This is another big part of the challenge," Denver coach Joe Scott said. "I thought in the second half we executed extremely well. When we execute that way, when that becomes who we are, we're going to be a good basketball team."
Stanford, which started a 13-day break for finals after the game, never trailed. The Cardinal built an early 21-6 advantage and Denver, which has not scored more than 68 points in a contest this season, never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"It was a good game for us going into the break," Dawkins said. "We had to learn how to deal with their unorthodox defense. We made some shots and guys are growing into their roles."
Chris Udofia added 10 points for the Pioneers, who have not beaten Stanford since 1972 and have lost five straight. Jalen Love and Cam Griffin each added 10 points.
Guard Aaron Bright, who missed the previous four games, played 15 minutes off the bench and hit his first 3-pointer of the season after opening with 13 misses.
Powell, who scored 19 in the first half, made his first six shots in helping the Cardinal to a 35-19 halftime lead.
- by Rick Eymer, Associated Press
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NOTES: Stanford shot a season-high 53.3 percent. The Cardinal was just 2-11 from three-point territory but converted on 21-24 (87.5 percent) from the foul line ... Stanford has excelled at the charity stripe through nine games, connecting at 75.4 percent ... Head coach Johnny Dawkins employed his fourth different starting lineup of the year, with Rosco Allen and Gabriel Harris making their first starts alongside regulars Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell, Chasson Randle. It was the first career start for Allen and third career start for Harris ... Stanford scored a season-high 35 points in the first half. The Cardinal's 16-point halftime lead was its largest since a 50-30 advantage at intermission against Arizona State on Mar. 7, 2012 ... Stanford committed 22 turnovers, its most since finishing with 24 miscues against Syracuse on Nov. 25, 2011 ... Chasson Randle (nine points) was held to less than 10 points for the second time this year and only the fourth time over the last 25 games ... Stanford's 1942 NCAA Championship season was recognized in a halftime presentation, as the NCAA and NABC continue to celebrate 75 years of March Madness by commissioning paintings honoring each of the national championship coaches. The original art piece, designed and painted by world-renowned artist Opie Otterstad, was presented to Mrs. Nancy Baxter, daughter of legendary Cardinal head coach Everett S. Dean.
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Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins
"It was a good game to go into break. As you know [Denver is] a very good team, a very good program. Joe's done a good job with his group and has a lot of returners that played a lot of minutes for them last year. I thought it would be a great game for us and it was. I think the kids improved from the experience."
"We have three or four new guys out there in our starting lineup. I think they have good talent, but bottom line is that there's an adjustment, and I think you see them going through it now. And we realize it and we're just going to be patient and keep working with them."
"Dwight's healthy, and that's a good thing. I felt bad for him last year because when you can't move, it's very difficult. I understood it from my playing days, but it's hard for people to see him as a freshman and then they say, `Okay, he took a step back.' And I knew he really didn't take a step back; I knew he just couldn't move, because it's hard to take a step back when you have his kind of talent unless something's wrong with you. His foot was bad."
"Dwight's still learning and developing, you know. You're starting to figure out what you're going to get form him every night. There was a stage in his career as a freshman when you weren't sure, where he had his moments. He's started to find the consistency. That's what happens usually by the time you're a junior, you get a little bit older. The consistency starts to set in so you start to have more games like the ones we're seeing, as opposed to just the ups-and-downs that a lot of young guys have."
"Great to see Aaron back on the court. He came in and he handled the ball well. He was trying to just get a good feel for what was going on out there, because he hadn't even fully practiced for us yet. He said he was ready to go, though, so we wanted to give him a chance to get his feet wet and I thought he did a good job for us."
"Rosco earned [his first start] because the practice leading up to the game, and also the last game that we played versus Seattle, I really thought he stepped up for us in that game. So we wanted to take a look at our lineup. We're still figuring out who we're going to be as a team, with all the new guys in the lineup and figuring out what our freshmen can do. I wanted to see how the lineup would look with him in there, how we would play with our chemistry, because he does a good job with making a lot of connecting plays in practice. Not only does he shoot it, but he's a very good passer of the basketball. He rebounds it very well. So I wanted to see how that would mix in with the first group, and I thought he did a pretty good job. I thought we got off to a very good start in large part because of what he was doing."
Junior Dwight Powell
"Absolutely, that's one of our focuses, trying to use our size, hit the posts and play off different cutters, to try to get easy baskets as much as possible."
"We were all playing aggressive. We came into today, the last game before the little stretch that we have off, so everybody came in with an attack mindset, so we just tried to do that."
"We really have a lot of stuff to work on. We have to be more crisp on defense, communicate better and make quicker rotations. We still have to rebound better, and work on taking care of the ball on offense. We had too many turnovers. So [we have to] keep getting better at pretty much everything."
Denver Head Coach Joe Scott
"Well, we've played four of them, and all on the road: Cal, Southern Miss, Colorado State and now Stanford. We didn't execute as well in the first half (Stanford led 35-19 at halftime) as we did in the second (Denver outscored Stanford 39-36 in the second half), and that's it. At the beginning of games, when things are amped up a bit, our guys need to remember to execute the plays the way we do in practice. We did that in the second half."
"We have some pretty good players, and they need some battle-testing. We've been in the battles, and they've been tested, but now they have to pass the tests."