New liveblog: Oregon 30, Stanford 26 (Half)

F Dwight Powell, in earlier action vs. Oregon

Stanford basketball needs a change, and while we're not the type to believe in superstitions or anything, the least we can do is alter the format of these live blogs. We're organizing by theme, instead of four-minute periods. Let's see if it brings the Cardinal any luck in the first half in Eugene – and is more fun for our readers.

Optics

A big thumbs up to Stanford's uniforms, black with white and red trim. I'm agnostic on the football blacks, but I have to admit these are pretty snazzy. A big thumbs down, meanwhile, to Oregon's MacArthur Court. Or maybe the Pac-12 Network cameras. With the amount of money tied into television rights, I cannot believe that Oregon's court looks to TV viewers like a Picasso interpretation of what a court should be. The glare is so extreme it looks like the wood is three different colors.

Opportunity

With Dominic Artis, No. 23 Oregon is 17-2. Without him, they are 4-4. That .500 mark comes entirely against unranked opponents, and includes a 76-52 demolition at Stanford, hands down the Cardinal's most impressive showing of the season.

Artis is out today, and if Stanford's faintest of NCAA hopes are to prove more than a flicker, they really could use a top-50 RPI road win. The RPI computers, of course, do not know that Artis is out, so Oregon is the No. 51 team to the RPI, and easily could sneak back into that top 50 by season's end, even though they're playing like maybe the No. 100 team without Artis. That disparity presents a huge opportunity for Stanford to bolster its resume. Early, neither team has looked especially crisp, but Dwight Powell has seven, Stanford has won two loose balls, and the Cardinal leads 9-5 at the first media timeout.

Live by the three

Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell each have a three as Stanford leads 14-7 six minutes in. (And that doesn't include pretty jumpers from Huestis and Powell.) Stanford's 41.1 percent from deep in Pac-12 play is No. 1 in the conference, while their 42.5 percent on twos is a league-worst. So keep shootings those threes, guys!

Why the subs?

Dwight Powell had seven of Stanford's first nine points. He leaves, and then Oregon goes on a 6-0 run. Four of those points came on offensive rebounds and subsequent tip-ins, the exact location on the floor where Powell's presence would have been most impactful. Certainly, he can't play 40 minutes every game, but his absence came at a curious time here and was sorely felt. Stanford's lead is just 14-13 with 11:18 left in the half.

Why the missed bunnies?

This will surprise no fans of the 2013 Cardinal either, but Stanford could have another eight points if it hadn't missed from within five feet. Aaron Bright, John Gage and now Josh Huestis have missed layups, while Chasson Randle missed a fadeaway from perhaps four feet out. Instead, Coach Johnny Dawkins has elected to bench Dwight Powell after the big man picked up his second foul, and the Cardinal attack has come to a screeching halt. And yet, the Stanford defense has kept the visitors in this one. We are at the 7:07 mark of the first half, it's been minutes since the last point, and Stanford still leads, albeit by the slimmest of margins, at 16-15.

One-man team

All told, Oregon went on a 14-2 run, with Powell sitting through much of the stretch. The Ducks reversed a 14-7 deficit into a 21-16 lead. Stanford's offense looked particularly lost, as Powell is easily Stanford's best big man at creating his own offensive opportunities. Powell is back now though, and is quickly making up for lost time. He has Stanford's last five points, including an and-one that he seemingly created out of nothing. Powell has 12 as Stanford trails 23-21 at the under-four media timeout.

Pivotal call

With just over a minute left, Powell hits the bench after being whistled for his third foul. It was a charge, but unlike many charge/block calls which could rightfully go either way, this one wasn't particularly close. Don't take my word for it: The announcers replayed the sequence just to rip the call. And this is the Pac-12 Network, whose parent conglomerate also employs the referees in question. And the color guy is Ernie Kent, who used to coach at Oregon. So, yeah, it was a really bad call. As is, Stanford holds for the last possession, Aaron Bright hands onto the ball a bit too long (shades of USC all over again), John Gage has to rush a three, it's short, and Oregon enters the locker room with a four-point lead, 30-26.


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