STANFORD (AP) — Chasson Randle and the Stanford Cardinal showed how much they have grown as a team since last month’s blowout loss at UCLA.
Randle made a career-high seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points to help Stanford boost their case for an at-large NCAA tournament berth with an 83-74 victory over the 23rd-ranked Bruins on Saturday.
“We spent a lot of time watching that game. We were very bad, to put it out there,” Randle said. “We wanted to come out tonight and have a different performance. … I think we’re more focused and tonight we showed that.”
Josh Huestis tied a career high with 22 points and Anthony Brown had 18 for the Cardinal (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12), who have won five of six.
This might have been the most impressive of the bunch, coming against a ranked team playing its best basketball of the season. Stanford made 62 percent of its shots, topping 60 percent in a conference game for the first time since exactly 11 years ago against UCLA.
It was a major change from the first meeting between these teams when the Cardinal made just 39 percent of their shots and Randle was 3 for 16 from the field in a 91-74 loss.
“The team that played down in L.A. was a totally different team than we are now,” Huestis said. “We have taken a lot of steps forward, we have grown quite a bit. We’re a much more aggressive team offensively and defensively. We’re tougher and a more together team. As long as keep on that path, we have unlimited growth and potential.”
Zach LaVine and Norman Powell scored 14 points each and Tony Parker added 13 for the Bruins (21-6, 10-4), who entered the day one game behind No. 4 Arizona for the conference lead. Having lost the only scheduled meeting against the Wildcats, UCLA has little margin for error in its quest for the regular-season title.
This marked the third time this season the Bruins won the opener of a weekend road trip and failed to get the sweep.
“This is a huge, big-time loss for us,” Parker said. “We’re one game behind Arizona if we win this game. This is the third time this has happened. We got to pick it up and learn from this. We’re taking hits. It’s tournament time, it’s February, we need to turn it up, but we took two steps back so we got to regroup.”
The Cardinal are just looking to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons under coach Johnny Dawkins and this was the type of win they needed to impress the selection committee. Stanford has now beaten three ranked teams, its most in a single season since winning six in 2007-08 on the way to the round of 16 under former coach Trent Johnson.
“We knew the magnitude of the game,” Randle said. “It was one we felt like we had to win. We did that tonight, guys were really hyped up before the game. Now we just move onto the next and keep pushing.”
Dwight Powell, who missed his only shot in the first half, scored nine points in the first 4 minutes of the second half to help the Cardinal turn an eight-point game into a 52-39 lead.
The highlight came when Randle stole the ball from Anderson to start a fast break. Randle lobbed a pass to Brown, who threw a lob back to Powell for a one-handed jam that got the fans out of their seats and led UCLA coach Steve Alford to call timeout.
The Bruins got back into the game with a 13-2 run that featured three baskets from Parker that cut Stanford’s lead to 60-57 just past the midpoint of the half.
Brown answered with a 3-pointer out of a timeout and Randle followed with another 3 off an offensive rebound to build the lead back to 66-57.
Randle hit another 3 to make it 71-62 with 5:24 remaining and Stanford held on for the win.
“We weren’t totally ready for this game; the proof is in the pudding,” guard Kyle Anderson said. “This is definitely the toughest loss of the ones we’ve had on the road. We were a game away from having a very good weekend and we came up short.”
Stanford scored 12 straight points midway through the first half to break open a tie game. Huestis started the spurt with a dunk and finished with a putback. Randle and Robbie Lemons made 3-pointers and Marcus Allen scored on an acrobatic scoop shot just before the shot-clock buzzer to help give Stanford the cushion.
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