The started fast. They finished ugly. But they survived and advanced.
When everyone knows you must beware the Ides of March, that's the most important thing.
Chasson Randle, Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a nasty 58-53 win over #7 seed New Mexico on Friday, edging the Lobos due to a red-hot beginning and just enough necessary second-half buckets.
Randle, as per usual, paced the way with 23 points, going 7-15 shooting to lead a sluggish game where both teams combined to shoot 37% from the floor. After the Cardinal made 8 of their first 10 shots, they made just 11 of the next 39 - but it was enough to overcome New Mexico's 19-52 effort.
After Stefan Nastic and Dwight Powell picked up fouls in bunches in the second half - Powell would end up fouling out with just 3 points to his credit - New Mexico did manage to tie the game at 45 mostly due to Cameron Bairstow's 24 points. However, the big Aussie couldn't carry the Lobos quite far enough, and it came down to Robbie Lemons hitting two critical free throws to ice the game away and inspire a hundred different "When life gives you lemons" puns.
The win is a nice feather in the cap of this upperclass unit - like it or not, they did what they had to do in the end. However, the win did nothing to suggest that Stanford's life in this tournament is anything but short-lived. Powell was 0-8 from the floor and the bench was absolutely useless, managing just one John Gage three and Lemons' two free throws.
Next up for Stanford is Kansas, where the powerful Jawhawks will be without center Joel Embiid, but still touting dynamic freshman Andrew Wiggins.
It should be a tall test for the Cardinal... but this March has been as batshit crazy as any one I can remember. So there's hope.