You’d think that the No. 10 team in the country losing by 24 points to a team in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12 would be a big deal, but after watching Oregon get thoroughly embarrassed by Stanford 76-52 on Wednesday night on national television, I’m not all that concerned.
On the one hand, Oregon was playing without starting point guard Dominic Artis. Artis, who is averaging 10.2 points and 3.8 assists on the season, is battling a foot injury and will be out for a couple of weeks. He missed Saturday’s win over Washington, but that game was played in Eugene.
Wednesday’s game was in Palo Alto, and I shouldn’t have to tell you about the benefits of playing at home at this level of college hoops. Oregon shot 34.2% from the floor, turned the ball over 20 times and managed just four assists. Their offense was just as ugly to watch as those numbers would indicate.
The bigger factor, however, was Stanford.
The Cardinal were a trendy sleeper pick in the Pac-12 back in October and have spent the first three months of the season underperforming. Their back court of Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, one of the best shooting duos in the country last season, have combined to hit 26.0% of their threes. They’ve lost a number of close games they could have won. Of their eight losses on the season, only one was by double digits. That was last Thursday at Colorado, when the Cardinal lost by 21 at Colorado.
And that loss seems to have lit a fire underneath Johnny Dawkins’ club.
After whipping an improved Utah team by 31 points on the road on Sunday, Stanford turned around and made quick work of the Ducks. Josh Huestis was the star, finishing with 14 points and 13 boards, including a number of thunderous dunks in traffic, while Dwight Powell had 12 points and 13 boards of his own.
But the better news was that both Bright and Randle seemed to get into a rhythm offensively. They combined for 29 points, hitting all six of the threes they attempted. Against Utah, those two combined to make 3-8 from distance, meaning that they’ve hit nine of their last 14 from beyond the arc.
The loss is Oregon’s first in Pac-12 play, cutting their lead over Arizona and Arizona State to just a single game.
More importantly, the win kept Stanford relevant in the Pac-12 race.
Is this the kind of performance that could turn around their season?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.