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Pickens and Okpala power 79-70 road victory over WSU

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Career highs from the two perimeter players overshadow quiet day from bigs

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Stanford D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford overcame a nine point deficit to amass a ten point lead with under seven minutes to go. But in a sight all too familiar to Cardinal fans, the difference was cut to three in the blink of eye. For a short time, it looked as though the team may falter in the final minutes, as they did earlier in the season so many times. Instead, they went on a run to close the game, pushing the final margin to nine.

This is not the same Stanford team that we saw in November. The two “new faces”, Kezie Okpala and Dorian Pickens, both set career highs today. Daejon Davis did not record a single turnover. With just one field goal from the Travis/Humphrey duo, the offense did not sputter. This is the team that was picked fifth in the PAC. This is Stanford basketball.

Washington State was blazing out of the gates, led by Malachi Flynn’s six first half threes. They came into the game third in the nation in threes per game, and if you squinted, you’d have believed Steph Curry was running point for the Cougs. They notched 45 first half points by the break.

In the second half, the Stanford defense showed its potential to be absolutely scary. Haase made a shrewd decision of putting length on the smaller Flynn, often having Okpala dog him far beyond the three point line. He made just one of six threes in the half, and his frustration helped tank the offense as a whole. The length and anticipation of the Cardinal gave the other Cougs all kinds of fits, resulting in 22 turnovers.

The Travis-Humphrey duo came in averaging almost 34 points per game yet finished with just six tonight, all from Travis. Instead of running much of the offense through the post, Davis and Okpala carved up the Wazzu defense off the bounce, and they ran sets to free up Pickens. Dorian finished with 28 on 7-10 from three, Okpala had 21 off the bench on 8-9 from the line, and Davis had 15 and 4 assists.

For the Cougs, Malachi Flynn led the way with 24 on 7-15 from three. The high scoring Robert Franks was held to just 8.

Stanford is sitting in a tie for first in the conference with Arizona and UCLA, all at 3-1. They will try to make it four straight when they face Washington in Seattle on Saturday.