Stanford has proven to be more than capable of winning easily at home in its first three games. Playing on the road figures to be more difficult.
The 20th-ranked Cardinal will face their first road test of the season Thursday night when they take on Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Stanford (3-0) has hardly broken a sweat in its first three games - all at home - beating Harvard, Northwestern State and UC Santa Barbara by an average margin of 37.6 points. The Cardinal are 3-0 for the first time since a school-best 26-0 start in 2003-04.
Playing its third game in as many days, Stanford built an 11-point halftime lead and never looked back in a 67-48 victory over Santa Barbara on Sunday in the finale of the Basketball Travelers Classic.
Junior guard Anthony Goods scored 10 straight points during one first-half stretch and finished with 23. Robin Lopez added 12 points, two blocks and two steals for the Cardinal, who outscored the Gauchos 24-4 from the free throw line.
“It’s a good start for us,” Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. “The thing that impressed me with this group this weekend, regardless of who we’re playing we’re playing with energy right now. We kept playing hard.”
Goods was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 15.7 points on 17-for-30 shooting from the field, including 9-for-17 from 3-point range. Sophomore guard Drew Shiller also played well in the tournament, averaging 13.0 points while connecting on 7 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc.
After visiting Northwestern, the Cardinal conclude their two-game road trip against Siena. Stanford was 5-6 in regular-season road games in 2006-07, when it lost its last four away from home.
This will be the season opener for the Wildcats, who return three starters from last year’s team that went 13-18 overall and 2-14 in the Big Ten.
One big piece will be missing from Northwestern’s lineup, as sophomore Kevin Noble - who led the team with 13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season - is currently on leave from the team while his mother undergoes cancer treatments.
Northwestern has a relatively young team with one senior, five juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.
Two freshmen that have coach Bill Carmody excited are Illinois products Michael “Juice” Thompson and Mike Capocci.
Thompson is expected to open the season as the Wildcats’ point guard while the 6-6 Capocci should start up front.
“Early on, I think our veterans are going to have to lead us in scoring and how you go about stuff,” Carmody said. “But I really like our two freshmen. As far as goals and stuff, we’re still trying to figure it out, to tell you the truth.”
Without Noble, Northwestern’s top returning scorer is junior guard Craig Moore, who averaged 8.1 points last season.
Northwestern is 4-3 in season openers under Carmody, including a 64-61 home loss to Cornell last season.
These teams have split their two previous meetings, including a 58-53 home victory for Stanford on Nov. 27, 2006.