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Men’s basketball breaks skid, upsets No. 11 Oregon
While sophomore forward Michael Humphrey may have delivered the highlight-reel play, Stanford's senior center Grant Verhoeven (above) set his second career high with 13 points. (SANTOSH MURUGAN/The Stanford Daily)

Men’s basketball breaks skid, upsets No. 11 Oregon

Even with an 11-point lead and 4:54 to play, Stanford men’s basketball (12-11, 5-7 Pac-12) needed a little bit of magic to top No. 11 Oregon (20-6, 9-4).

Fortunately for the Cardinal, sophomore forward Michael Humphrey was there to deliver.

With five seconds remaining, Humphrey rejected a potentially game-tying layup from Oregon star Dillon Brooks, knocking the ball into the hands of teammate Marcus Allen. The junior guard then sealed the game with two key free throws as Stanford recorded its biggest win of the season with a 76-72 triumph over the Ducks, avoiding what would have been the team’s longest losing streak since the 1992-93 season.

The block ended a furious Oregon comeback that had nearly derailed a remarkable afternoon for Stanford. For most of the 40 minutes, the Cardinal had looked a very different team from the one that had lost four in a row coming into the game by double-digit margins, shooting above 55 percent and feeding off an energetic Maples crowd to keep a step ahead of their opponent.

“I’m just really proud of our guys and the way we bounced back,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins after the game. “[We had a] tough loss a few days ago, to turn around and to be able to play the way they played, I’m very proud of them.”

Senior forward Rosco Allen stepped up to lead his team in this re-energized effort, tying his career-high of 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbing a team-high 7 rebounds. The versatile forward had struggled two days earlier in the team’s game against Oregon State, but he didn’t seem to let that get to him against an Oregon team that ranks third in the conference in scoring defense.

“When we can get him good looks, he’s one of the best shooters in our conference and probably in the country,” said Dawkins of his captain.

Even with this star performance, however, reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year Dana Altman and the conference-leading Ducks nearly managed to spoil the Cardinal’s turnaround. With help from a full-court press that forced two late Stanford turnovers, the team went on a 16-5 run that tied the game at 72 with 51 seconds to play.

Despite some shaky free-throw shooting down the stretch, however, Stanford managed to keep Oregon at bay and hang on for the victory.

“We were [just] confident. We’ve done this the entire year, even going back to pre-conference play,” said sophomore guard Dorian Pickens. “We know how to finish games now… They’re going to make their runs; they’re going to hit tough shots. But it’s just something we work on a lot.”

Pickens complemented Allen’s success from the floor with 16 points of his own, while senior center Grant Verhoeven set his second career-high in as many games with 13. Senior guard Christian Sanders facilitated these efforts remarkably in his first game back at full minutes with a career-high 10 assists.

Humphrey did not score a point in the 12 minutes he played, but the sophomore was there when the team needed him. His key block highlighted a solid defensive outing from the team that saw the Cardinal force the Ducks into a number of contested field-goal attempts and keep many of their playmakers on the bench with foul trouble.

“We really wanted to come out tonight with an extreme emphasis on the defensive end,” Pickens said. “It’s something we’ve been struggling with these last few games in conference play, so today we wanted to come out with a ton of energy. Oregon is a great team, all credit to them… Fortunately, we were able to play hard and stand up to the challenge.”

Stanford still has the opportunity to make something of its up-and-down season, but the Cardinal will need to continue this elevated level of play if they want to capitalize on their chances. Four of the team’s six remaining games are against opponents ranked in the bottom half of the conference, and strong performances by Stanford could easily put the team back in the mix for an upper-tier finish in the Pac-12 standings.
Stanford will begin this stretch on Thursday against Washington State. The Cougars have just one win in conference play this season, but Pullman has proved a bit of a difficult place for the Cardinal to play as of late, with the home team having taken two of the last three.
Stanford will take on Washington State at 8 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Andrew Mather

Andrew Mather served as a sports editor and as the Chief Operating Officer of The Daily. Growing up a devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brings this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he occasionally feels a strong sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.