Rushed Reactions: #10 Stanford 58, #7 New Mexico 53Posted by Adam Stillman on March 21st, 2014
Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.
Three Key Takeaways.
- New Mexico flops again in March. Make it two seasons in a row that the Lobos have lost to a lower-seeded team in its first game of the NCAA Tournament. Last year, #3 New Mexico looked awful in an upset loss to #14 Harvard. The seed differential wasn’t quite as large this time around, but the loss (and the performance) were again really disappointing. For a team that came in winners of 15 of 17 and boasting a MW Tournament title, this is another stunning loss. The Lobos just looked awful all game long and certainly didn’t deserve to win it. What a waste of talent and potential.
- Stanford made its own momentum. The Cardinal raced out of the gate to a 20-4 lead just 6:22 into the game despite an early tip-off in front of a relatively small crowd. A 17-0 run did the trick. New Mexico went scoreless for 5:29 during that stretch and didn’t make a field goal for a period that lasted more than seven minutes. Stanford’s star guard Chasson Randle scored nine of his 11 first-half points during the early surge. Stanford had everything clicking for the first 15 minutes or so until New Mexico closed the half on an 8-0 run to make it a 32-27 ball game heading into the locker room.
- Disappearing acts. Where did the big-time scorers go? Other than Stanford’s Randle and New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow, there were a lot of disappointing performances from star players in this game. The Lobos’ Kendall Williams entered Friday’s game averaging 16.4 PPG. His teammate, big man Alex Kirk, averages nearly 14 PPG. Stanford’s Dwight Powell came in scoring 14.2 PPG. Each player in that trio scored just three points apiece while going a combined 1-of-20 from the floor. For all the firepower on each roster, only two big names stepped up today.
Star of the Game: Chasson Randle, Stanford. What a game for the star guard. Aside from his aforementioned hot start, the junior was fantastic all day long. Randle tossed in 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. He also grabbed five rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. With Stanford’s second-leading scorer, Powell, struggling from the field, Randle picked up the slack and carried the Cardinal into the second round.
Quotable: “I don’t have any unfinished business. We’ve done about everything you can do except get better in the Tournament.” — New Mexico head coach Craig Neal.
Sights & Sounds: Pick your side. With New Mexico and Stanford both traveling long distances to St. Louis for first-round action, there wasn’t exactly a ton of Lobos and Cardinal fans in attendance for the 12:40 PM local tip-off. Blue (Kansas, Kentucky) and yellow (Wichita State) dominated the stands while waiting for their respective games. The one thing all the fans agreed upon was cheering loudly when the public address announcer relayed the final score for the Mercer-Duke game.
Wildcard: One thing that can’t be overlooked is Stanford’s defense on New Mexico stud forward Cameron Bairstow. Sure, the forward got his game-high 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting. But the Cardinal’s late-game work on Bairstow was terrific. After he scored eight of New Mexico’s first 11 points in the second half to reach the 20-point plateau, the senior scored just four points the rest of the way, including a scoreless stretch from the 12:03 mark to the 3:16 mark. That’s right during the time Stanford turned a 45-all tie into a 52-45 edge and led the rest of the way.
What’s Next? Stanford will advance to play the winner between #2 Kansas and #15 Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. The Cardinal will certainly need a better effort out of Powell if they want to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.