Stanford Cardinal (7-2, 0-0 Pac-12)
No. 10/10 Connecticut Huskies (9-0, 0-0 American Athletic)
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 • 6 p.m. PT
Hartford, Conn. • XL Center (16,291)
Series History: Connecticut leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Connecticut 85, Stanford 74 (March 22, 2003 at Spokane, Wash.)
Radio: KNBR 1050 AM (PBP: Scott Reiss)
TV: ESPN2 (PBP: John Saunders, Analyst: Bob Knight, Sideline: Andy Katz)
The Opening Tip
One of the most difficult nonconference road swings in recent memory gets underway on Wednesday night, when Stanford (7-2) visits No. 10/10 Connecticut (9-0). The Cardinal, which faces Michigan three days later in Brooklyn, is seeking a signature win.
The game can be heard on KNBR 1050 AM, with Scott Reiss handling the broadcast chores, The contest will also be televised on ESPN2, with John Saunders (play-by-play), Bob Knight (analyst) and Andy Katz (sideline) providing coverage.
Scouting No. 10/10 Connecticut
Connecticut (9-0) has been a mainstay in the national rankings throughout the year and currently checks in at No. 10 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls ... Four of the Huskies’ nine victories have come by two points or less, including notable wins against Indiana and Florida. The other five wins have been by double-digits ... Connecticut is averaging 78.1 points while shooting 49.1 percent overall and 46.5 percent from beyond the arc. Opponents are being held to 64.4 points while shooting only 37.7 percent overall and 29.5 percent from three-point range ... Look out for: Shabazz Napier (15.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 50.0 percent FG, 57.1 percent 3FG, 53 assists), DeAndre Daniels (13.8 ppg), Niels Giffey (69.8 percent FG, 66.7 percent 3FG) ... Shifting to the newly-formed American Athletic Conference, Connecticut finished last year 20-10 overall and tied for sixth place in the BIG EAST at 10-8.
Stanford All-Time Against Connecticut
Stanford is looking for its first win in five attempts against Connecticut, with the Huskies collecting an 85-74 victory back on March 22, 2003, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament during the previous meeting. The Cardinal dropped its only previous road game in the series, falling 76-56 in Storrs back on Feb. 7, 1998.
Stanford Against The Top-25
Stanford is 4-13 all-time against top-25 teams under head coach Johnny Dawkins. Opponent rankings listed Associated Press poll first, USA Today second.
LAST WIN OVER A TOP-25 TEAM: Stanford 76, No. 10/12 Oregon (Jan. 30, 2013 at Stanford, Calif.)
LAST WIN OVER A TOP-25 TEAM (NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENT): Stanford 82, No. 25/25 Marquette (March 22, 2008 at Anaheim, Calif.)
LAST WIN OVER A TOP-25 TEAM ON THE ROAD: Stanford 74, No. 21/21 Arizona State 64 (March 5, 2009 at Tempe, Ariz.)
LAST WIN OVER A TOP-10 TEAM ON THE ROAD: Stanford 67, No. 9/9 Washington State 65 - OT (Feb. 2, 2008 at Pullman, Wash.)
Stanford has traveled 11,523 miles during nonconference play entering Wednesday’s game against Connecticut. After playing its first road game at Denver (2,584 miles round trip) on Nov. 17, the Cardinal embarked on the first of two trips to Brooklyn (5,896 miles round trip) one week later. Toss in Sunday’s flight to Hartford (3,043 miles one-way) and Stanford continues to criss-cross the country more than any other West Coast team.
Takeaways From The UC Davis Game
Chasson Randle scored a game-high 16 points to lead four starters in double figures as Stanford easily handled UC Davis 83-56 on Saturday night at Maples Pavilion ... Back on the court for the first time in 13 days due to its annual extended break for finals, Stanford displayed little signs of rust on both sides of the ball ... Stanford shot 58.5 percent overall, including 65.4 percent (17-26) in the second half. The Cardinal dished out a season-high 22 assists, knocked down 11-20 from beyond the arc and built a 40-23 halftime lead ... Dwight Powell notched his second double-double of the year, chipping in with 15 points and 10 rebounds while matching his career high with six assists ... The Cardinal’s defense simply smothered UC Davis, which was limited to 34.5 percent shooting and forced into 14 turnovers ... Josh Huestis tallied four blocks, increasing his career total to 146 while tying Curtis Borchardt for third on the school’s all-time list. Tim Young owns the school record (167) ... John Gage added seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. Gage finished 3-5 after entering the contest shooting 1-7 over his last five games ... For only the second time this year, Stefan Nastic was held without a free throw attempt ... The Cardinal has now made at least one three-pointer in 397 consecutive games, dating back to an 0-6 outing against Purdue in the John Wooden Tradition on Nov. 24, 2001.
Offense Has Been Clicking
Stanford has experienced little trouble offensively through the first nine games, reaching the 70-point plateau seven times. It’s a sharp contrast to last year’s early-season struggles. The Cardinal is ranked among the nation’s top-50 in scoring (37th) and field goal percentage (13th).
Starting Five Has Been Impressive
Head coach Johnny Dawkins has employed a starting lineup of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic in all nine games. It’s easy to see why, as Stanford boasts an experienced starting five that is capable of reaching double digits every time out. All four starters with the exception of Nastic (7.6 ppg) are averaging double-figure scoring. That being said, the Cardinal must find a way to jump-start its bench.
Bright Is Latest Injury Casualty
Three players are out for the year, with Aaron Bright (dislocated right shoulder) the most recent addition to a list that already includes Andy Brown (torn right ACL) and Christian Sanders (hip). Bright, who will undergo season-ending surgery in early January, is completing coursework toward an undergraduate degree in science, technology and society and is expected to graduate in June. The MVP of Stanford’s 2012 Postseason NIT championship run, Bright averaged 8.7 points and 3.0 assists in 105 career games while his 316 career assists rank 10th in school history. Meanwhile, Rosco Allen (stress fracture) is expected back in two weeks.
Cardinal Cashing In At The Foul Line
Stanford is converting at 69.7 percent from the foul line while averaging 24.2 attempts per game. Chasson Randle (38-48, 79.2 percent) and Anthony Brown (28-36, 77.8 percent) lead the way, as five players have already tallied at least 20 free throw attempts. The aggressive backcourt has done a solid job of driving the lane while the frontcourt is battling on the glass and routinely drawing contact. Stanford shot free throws at a 74.3 percent clip last year, good for 35th nationally and the best mark in school history since a 76.3 percent clip in 2005-06.
Randle Returns To Form Of Rookie Year
Chasson Randle appears to have put last year’s struggles behind and is performing at a similar level to 2011-12, when he produced one of the best rookie seasons in school history. Randle is averaging a team-high 18.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 79.2 percent from the foul line. His numbers from beyond the arc are also steadily improving, now up to 41.0 percent after knocking down 5-6 tries against UC Davis on Saturday. Randle has also scored in double figures in eight contests, including a career-high 33-point outing against BYU on Nov. 11.
Brown’s Return Provides Immediate Boost
Returning to action after missing all but four games last year due to a hip injury, Anthony Brown has carried Stanford so far. The only player to reach double figures in all nine games, Brown is averaging 16.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. More impressively, Brown’s blistering 60.0 percent clip (21-35) from three-point territory currently ranks fourth in the nation. His slashing, attacking style of play has resulted in an 77.8 percent (28-36) ledger from the foul line. A 2011 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team selection, Brown provides Stanford with added length and athleticism while also serving as its best perimeter defender.
Powell Displays Dynamic All-Around Game
A proven scorer and rebounder, Dwight Powell is averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds although his free throw percentage (64.1) is slightly behind last year’s pace. However, two underrated aspects of his game, which he showed flashes of last year, have looked very impressive early on. For a 6-10 forward, Powell is an excellent passer, dishing out a team-best 37 assists while committing only 27 turnovers. Also, Powell has racked up a team-best 14 steals. Powell ranked third on the squad in those same two categories last year, so his production this year is no fluke. The preseason accolades continue to roll in, as Powell has been named to the John R. Wooden Award watch list and is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award.
Nastic Anchoring The Frontcourt
Playing regularly for the first time in his career, Stefan Nastic is averaging 7.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Nastic has reached double figures in scoring four times, a feat he had accomplished only twice overall in 53 career games prior to this year. He’s shooting 57.1 percent, scoring the majority of his buckets on high-percentage shots inside the paint. Nastic is a capable free throw shooter (66.7 percent) who has a knack for frustrating his defender and drawing contact. He has totaled almost as many free throw attempts (30) as field goal tries (42).
Huestis’ Strong Defensive Play Continues
A front-runner for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Huestis is averaging 11.8 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds in his annual quest to become the first Cardinal player to average a double-double since Curtis Borchardt (16.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg) in 2001-02. Huestis nearly accomplished the feat last year, averaging 10.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while compiling nine double-doubles. With 25 swats already this year, Huestis is tied with Curtis Borchardt for third in school history with 146 career blocks. He’s also shooting 42.9 percent (9-21) from distance. Only three players boast career marks of at least 500 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks: Huestis (723, 608, 142), Tim Young (1544, 1070, 167) and Howard Wright (1599, 860, 121).
Top-15 Recruiting Class Signed For Next Year
Head coach Johnny Dawkins has announced the signing of four incoming student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The group will join the Cardinal for the 2014-15 campaign. The class is recognized as one of the best in the country, currently ranked as high as No. 9 by ESPN.com, No. 14 by Scout.com and No. 15 by Rivals.com. Robert Cartwright (Pasadena, Calif.), Michael Humphrey (Phoenix, Ariz.), Dorian Pickens (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Reid Travis (Minneapolis, Minn.) are projected as top-100 players and four-star recruits by multiple services. This year’s group represents the second top-15 class for Stanford in five years.
Projected Sixth In Pac-12 Preseason Poll
Stanford was picked to finish sixth in the 2013-14 Pac-12 preseason media poll. One year ago, the Cardinal was projected to finish fourth but tied for sixth at 9-9.
Nonconference Schedule Is Stacked
This year’s loaded schedule- one of the best in recent memory- features 17 home games, nine contests against NCAA Tournament teams from last season and a pair of trips to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The challenging nonconference slate includes a neutral-site matchup against 2013 NCAA runner-up Michigan and the start of a home-and-home series against Connecticut. Matchups against BYU and Pittsburgh provide the Cardinal with an opportunity to quickly establish a high RPI before Pac-12 competition gets underway in January.
Latest Set Of Twins
Freshmen guards Malcolm Allen and Marcus Allen are only the fourth set of twins to play varsity basketball at Stanford since 1960. Twin seven-footers Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez (Fresno, Calif./San Joaquin Memorial HS) played two seasons together before both were selected in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft. All-Americans Jarron Collins and Jason Collins (North Hollywood, Calif./Harvard-Westlake HS) also both went on to play in the NBA after successful four-year stints on The Farm that included an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1998. Twins Don Clemetson and Doug Clemetson (Richmond, Calif./Harry Ellis HS) competed on Stanford’s varsity squad from 1960-62 after playing together on the freshman team the previous season.