STANFORD, Calif. (AP)—Trent Johnson knows it’s only been two games.
Stanford’s balanced offense, quick tempo and crisp ball movement made for another lopsided victory—and that has the coach encouraged about his team’s potential.
Lawrence Hill and Drew Shiller each scored 15 points, Mitch Johnson added 14 points and four assists, and the 23rd-ranked Cardinal routed Northwestern State 97-58 on Saturday night in the Basketball Travelers Classic.
Fred Washington finished with 14 points and Kenny Brown scored 10 for Stanford (2-0), which will face fellow unbeaten UC Santa Barbara on Sunday during the final day of the round-robin event.
“Two games, so far. It’s encouraging, refreshing,” Trent Johnson said. “As well as we’ve played in terms of our effort and our energy, we can rebound better. We’re sharing ball well and playing with a high level of intensity. In the past we’ve played to the level of our opponents. We’re playing to our level.”
That’s a sign of a more experienced team.
Stanford made 12 of its first 14 shots to build a big lead and was on its way.
The Cardinal effectively skipped the ball around the perimeter to create open shots a night after beating Harvard 111-56 in their season opener—the school’s most points in a first game since scoring 117 against UC Irvine in 1990 and the sixth-highest in school history. The 55-point margin of victory was the third-highest in program history.
Stanford scored six straight points from Johnson during one first-half stretch Saturday that featured a four-point play and shot 60.6 percent in the opening 20 minutes.
“The best thing Stanford did was that they finished almost every inside shot they took when they got fouled,” Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. “If they can do that consistently all year, that will separate them from a lot of teams.”
The Cardinal, one of six Pac-10 teams in the preseason Top 25, are playing without academically ineligible 7-footer Brook Lopez during the fall quarter. His twin brother, Robin, had only four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes.
But enough other Stanford players did plenty in the first meeting between these programs.
“We talked about really spreading the floor, penetrating, kicking and getting open shots,” Mitch Johnson said. “We did a good job of spacing the floor and making them help and recover and we were able to get in the gaps.”
Anthony Goods followed his season-opening 17-point performance with just seven, but has been feeling ill the past couple of days.
Trey Gilder scored 14 to lead Northwestern State (0-2), a small Louisiana school that plays in the Southland Conference and is bidding to become the league’s first team to win four straight conference titles.
The Demons were limited to 38 percent shooting and couldn’t recover after falling behind early against the quicker, more athletic Cardinal. That’s even with McConathy employing his wave substitution pattern that regularly rotates fresh players onto the floor.
Northwestern State played without centers Jerry Moody (academic probation) and Demetrius Bell (who is playing football for the Demons). Forward Devin White has been held out two straight games for breaking a team rule.
The Demons missed their first seven shots before Thomas scored at the 16:11 mark shortly after entering the game. Northwestern State went the final 5:53 of the first half without a field goal and Stanford ended the half on a 15-1 run for a 57-24 lead at the break.
Stanford is focused on continuing to go hard on each possession even after taking big leads.
“That’s the plan,” Hill said with a smile. “It’s good but it’s also challenging. We don’t want to relax. We were up 20 in the first 10 minutes, but that’s a time when teams can let up because of that.”