The Stanford men's basketball team had come close to picking up a "signature" win under Johnny Dawkins before, losing in overtime to No. 5 Kentucky at the 2009 Cancun Challenge and to No. 5 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in the 2011 Preseason NIT, but they couldn't finish the job. Until last night. It wasn't pretty, but the Cardinal found a way to beat a good Connecticut team, 53-51, ending the No. 10 Huskies' 54-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents.
If the season ended today, Stanford would likely be in the NCAA Tournament. (Joe Lunardi listed the Cardinal among his First Four Out before their win over UConn.) I consider that a good thing, even if it means that Dawkins returns. Of course, there's still plenty of time for the Cardinal to play -- and Dawkins to coach -- their way into yet another NIT, starting Saturday against Michigan.
Stanford is 1-0 against ranked teams this season. Unlike last season, when Stanford played only three ranked teams during conference play, this year's Pac-12 schedule should provide plenty of opportunities to pad a resume that now features one great win and zero bad losses.
Here is Stanford's record against ranked teams (AP/USA TODAY) under Dawkins:
vs No. 17/14 Arizona State: L, 90-60
vs No. 22/23 Cal: W, 75-69
at No. 17/16 UCLA: L, 97-63
vs No. 22/25 Washington: L, 75-68
vs No. 22/19 UCLA: L, 76-71
at No. 21/21 Arizona State: W, 74-64
vs No. 13/10 Washington: L, 85-73 (Pac-10 Tournament at Los Angeles)
vs No. 5/5 Kentucky: L, 73-65 (OT) (Cancun Challenge)
at No. 23/NR Texas Tech: L, 100-87
vs No. 17/18 Washington: W, 58-56
vs No. 21/22 Arizona: L, 78-69
vs No. 5/5 Syracuse: L, 69-63 (NIT Season Tip-Off at New York)
vs No. 13/14 Missouri: L, 78-70 (at Battle for Atlantis, Bahamas)
at No. 25/NR N.C. State: L, 88-79
vs No. 10/12 Oregon: W, 76-52
at No. 7/7 Arizona: L, 73-66
at No. 23/23 Oregon: L, 77-66
at No. 10/10 Connecticut: W, 53-51
Dawkins vs. Ranked Teams: 5-13
Dawkins vs. Ranked Teams Away From Home: 2-9
Stanford was 13-18 against ranked teams in Trent Johnson's four seasons, which goes to show how weak the Pac-10/12 has been since Dawkins took over. Stanford's only two wins against ranked teams away from home under Johnson came in his final season, 2006-07, when the Cardinal won at No. 9/9 Washington State and against No. 25/25 Marquette in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Both of those wins came in overtime.