Shooting 36 percent in the first half is not a good sign for any basketball program. The Stanford Cardinal hit that spot in the first half against the Houston Cougars in the Progressive Legends Classic semifinal. Simply put, the Cardinal will not win because scorers are hard to come by in a loaded PAC-12.
You live by the three-pointer, you die by the three-pointer. Stanford attempted 15 threes in the first half in Brooklyn and only made three, making that statement true.
The Stanford bigs played like guards in the first half; they hovered around the three-point line and took face-up jumpers against smaller opponents. It changed in the second half when the Cardinal exploited the Cougars aggressive zone defense. In the second half, The Stanford Cardinal leading scorer, Anthony Brown, had 11 points and was three-of-four from behind the arc, giving the Cardinal some sort of offense efficiency.
However, this game was a tale of two halves; Stanford starting getting points in the paint. Once they started driving the basketball to the lane, the game opened up and the Cardinal started scoring easier. Once the Cardinal started hitting shots and dominating the glass, the Cougars had to play man-to-man defense, which is not their forte.
Stanford only scored 32 points in the first half, they scored 32 points in 12 minutes to in the second half and it was a contribution of all to their victory. Dwight Powell, Stefan Nastic, Josh Huestis and Brown all scored 10 points or more; making them a tough stop on defense for the Cougars.
Houston won the first half, but Stanford won the all-important second half. Stanford outscored the Cougars in the second half 54-44 and won 86-76. Houston was led by TaShawn Thomas — 22 points and 12 rebounds — and died off in the second half due to Stanford’s aforementioned better shot selection.
Brown and Powell look to be the go-to scorer for the Cardinal this season as they both put up 20 points tonight. Stanford needs to build on the momentum of the second half against Houston to the championship game tomorrow against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
John Lloyd is a PAC-12 basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter @JohnHLloydIII