Dec. 29, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. (AP)- Lazeric Jones drove into the lane, leaped off his left foot and floated a shot off his fingertips in hopes of capping a career night in spectacular fashion.
Josh Huestis had other ideas.
Huestis blocked the potential go-ahead jumper by Jones with three seconds remaining, lifting Stanford to a 60-59 victory over Pac-12 preseason favorite UCLA on Thursday night in the conference opener for both teams.
"That's a memorable one," Huestis said. "Having that power to know that you can stop someone from taking the game-winning shot is a great feeling."
The night belonged to UCLA's flashy point guard until the final play.
Jones scored a career-high 26 points, but his runner in the lane was swatted back by Huestis in the final seconds. Anthony Brown grabbed the rolling ball for Stanford (11-2, 1-0 Pac-12) and sprinted up court to seal a sizzling win that had Maples Pavilion rocking at the buzzer.
"I just took a bad shot. Should have passed it," Jones said. "I was in a rush for no reason. My teammates really fell hard. I take full responsibility for this one."
Aaron Bright had 16 points and Chasson Randle scored 10 for the Cardinal, which blew an 11-point first-half lead before snapping UCLA's five-game winning streak. The Bruins (7-6, 0-1 Pac-12) also had won three in a row and nine of the last 10 against Stanford.
A flurry of 3-pointers in the second half by Stanford kept the Bruins at bay as the Cardinal pulled away with shots from beyond the arc every time UCLA came close. During one stretch, Randle made two 3-pointers and Brown had another to put the Cardinal ahead 56-51 with 5:13 remaining.
Stanford was 2-11 from beyond the arc in the first half but made 7-13 3-pointers after the break. The Bruins bullied their way into the paint at will to trim Stanford's lead to a point late, and the teams traded baskets in a frantic finish.
After Bright's ill-advised layup attempt missed, UCLA got the ball and pushed it up court. Jerime Anderson missed a 3-pointer, and the Bruins got the ball back with 9 seconds and one final chance.
Jones moved into the middle of the lane and sent up a running shot around the free throw line that Huestis- who switched off a defender following a screen- sent back, setting off a raucous celebration.
"All I can say is it was an unbelievable finish for us," Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I thought the last possession Josh Huestis came up as big as a young man could come up in that situation."
The dramatic victory gives the Cardinal a much-needed boost.
Stanford had won five straight to move on the verge of leaping into the rankings for the first time this season until a struggling Butler team upset Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Dec. 22.
With conference competition in town, Stanford started with some fight.
Josh Owens muscled his way past defenders for a trio of layups in the first five minutes, and Bright's 3-pointer put the Cardinal ahead 18-7 a little more than halfway through the period.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland then switched to a pressing zone defense that gave Stanford fits.
The Bruins forced the Cardinal into quick outside shots and capitalized with several easy transition buckets. Jones led several fast breaks during a 17-6 run by UCLA to close the half, slicing Stanford's lead to 24-23 at the break.
"It was a disappointing finish," Howland said. "We fought back hard and put ourselves into a position with the ball to be able to take the open shot, but we just missed it."
The Cardinal played slightly shorthanded after junior guard Gabriel Harris had season-ending surgery to repair a micro-fracture in his right knee. Harris averaged 3.6 points and two rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game off the bench this season.
While the Bruins have started to show signs of progress, they're still finding themselves on the wrong side of highlights.
Andrew Zimmermann started the second half in place of Jack Trotter and pumped some life into an otherwise stagnant Stanford crowd. He had a chase-down block off the glass on Jones, leading to a short jumper by Anthony Brown on the other end, then drew a charge to hand Smith his third foul.
The Bruins stayed steady and tied the score at 37-all on Norman Powell's jumper with 11:59 remaining- the first time since UCLA led 4-0 in the opening minutes that it didn't trail. The two teams traded scores the rest of the way to give a relatively low-scoring game an outpouring of offense late.
- Antonio Gonzalez, Associated Press
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NOTES: Stanford won its conference opener for the second straight season, following up an 82-66 victory over California in last year's Pac-10 lid-lifter. Since the 1978-79 campaign, the Cardinal is 18-16 in conference openers ... Thursday's 60-59 win represented only the second one-point victory in four seasons under head coach Johnny Dawkins. Stanford edged USC 54-53 back on Jan. 6, 2010 ... Lazeric Jones became the first opposing player to reach the 20-point mark against Stanford this year, finishing with a game-high 26. That's the most points allowed since Butler's Matt Howard poured in 27 points against the Cardinal last December ... John Gage scored in double figures for the second straight game, finishing with 10 points on 4-6 shooting in a career-high 20 minutes of action ... Josh Owens tallied nine points, snapping a four-game stretch of double-figure scoring ... Stanford is 59-17 at home since the start of the 2007-08 campaign.
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Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins
"It was an unbelievable finish for us, and I give both teams credit. I thought defensively both teams played great, and they made it difficult for us to score in a number of ways, and I thought we kind of did the same thing to them. So I would credit both defenses. I thought that on the last possession, Josh Huestis came up as big as a young man can come up in that situation. The block he made was on a terrific player, a player that was having a terrific game."
On preparing for the final possession...
"During the huddle I was telling our guys, `This is what we've been building for: the ability to try and win the game on defense. We're up one; we need a stop to win the game.' And our kids responded. They were excited. I could see it in their eyes, that we want to try to do this, to win the game by getting a stop."
On learning from the close win...
"It's important for our group. Like I said, we're still trying to build leadership amongst our kids, especially on the perimeter. Our backcourt still has a freshman and two sophomores. So for those kids to be in a game like this, and to learn how to win and to learn how to close is huge for them. I think they'll gain confidence from it, but I also think they'll gain a greater understanding of what they need to do to score down the stretch because they did a very good job of valuing the basketball in the second half."
On shooting 7-13 from three-point range in the second half after going 2-11 to start the game...
"To be quite frank, I told our guys at halftime, `Flush this half.' I thought we had great looks. We have some good shooters and they had great looks. They just didn't go for us...They were anxious. We ran some things, we got them shots and they just didn't go in. That's basketball. So I said, `Look, flush the first half. In the second half you guys are going to make those shots. Step up and take the same shots you've been shooting all night and you'll be fine.' And you know what, they were. They stepped up, and it wasn't just one player."
On UCLA shutting down Josh Owens in the second half...
"¬¬Credit their defense. They do a great job defensively, and they're also huge. They're a big, big team. I think we have a pretty good-sized team but they're the biggest team that we've faced. They're probably bigger than Syracuse if you go through all the positions, so they make it difficult for you. They bang you, they're physical and they play tough. I think Josh will grow from this experience because in the first half, he was dynamic. He needs to be able to take that into the second half and make the adjustments necessary to have a terrific second half."
Sophomore guard Aaron Bright
On leading most of the first half...
"I thought our guys did a great job of crashing the boards, getting second-chance points, and we did a great job rebounding so I think that kind of elevated us to stop them."
On his 16-point performance...
"I thought I had too many turnovers, I thought I forced too many shots, but they were playing zone so I knew I was going to have three-pointers available. Overall I thought I played okay, not great. Like I said, I could take care of the ball better and we'll probably have a long film session tomorrow."
On Josh Huestis' block in the final seconds of the game...
"We were switching everything towards the end of the game, and he ended up on Jones. He's a great defender. That's one thing with Josh is that, in practice, I'll get by him or somebody will get by him and you think you have an open look but he'll come out of nowhere and block it. He's got such great length and he's athletic, so he made a helluva play and that's what won us the game."
UCLA head coach Ben Howland
"It was a disappointing finish. We fought back hard and put ourselves into a position with the ball to be able to take the open shot, but we just missed it. We were 15-24 from the foul line, which is really disappointing -- 62 percent. Every one of those points matters. I thought the zone helped us, but then they hit three in a row (three three-pointers in succession after the teams were tied at 47) from the same side, and we came back out of it (the zone). We were struggling against their pressure in the first half. We had too many turnovers.
On the blocked shot to end the game...
"We probably should have passed that one because there was help on the drive. I have to see the replay, though."
On Stanford's defensive pressure...
"Stanford didn't surprise us with their pressure. They did it against Oklahoma State back in New York (at the Preseason NIT). They're athletic, they play a lot of guys, so they play really hard. They really were denying the ball to Lazeric quite a bit. I thought we did a better job of handling it in the second half than we did in the first half."
UCLA guard Lazeric Jones...
On the last shot...
" I just took a bad shot. Should have passed it. I was in a rush for no reason. My teammates really fell hard. I take full responsibility for this one. I knew right at the time I should have passed it, but I was just rushing. Two seconds is a lot of time; you can get a good shot off in two seconds. That's what I'm here for (to take the tough shots). If things are not going right I try to step up. My teammates, they'll all have their times when they step up and make big shots."