Stanford is hoping a much-needed break for final exams is just the remedy for their sluggish start. Losers of five of their last six games, the Cardinal resume their non-conference schedule Friday against visiting Denver, which was picked to finish fifth in the Summit League preseason poll.
Junior forward Reid Travis is averaging 21.7 points and 7.8 rebounds to lead Stanford, which is playing for the first time since falling 76-68 at Long Beach State on Dec. 3. A preseason All-American, Travis scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half and gave the Cardinal a one-point lead with three minutes left before the 49ers took control late. The Cardinal had just seven scholarship players in the loss and continue to struggle without injured players Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield. “The thing that we’re all trying to do - players and coaches - is look in the mirror and find out what we can do better,” coach Jerod Haase told reporters. “With such a young team and such an injured team and a lack of practice time, I’m discouraged that I’m not putting (us) in the best position every time. So I need to make sure I do better, whether it’s press offense or zone defense or whatever.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT DENVER (5-6): The Pioneers are looking for a bounce-back effort after committing 18 turnovers and trailing by as many as 28 in Wednesday’s 83-63 loss to Northern Colorado. The lone bright spot was the play of junior guard Joe Rosga, who registered 14 points and seven rebounds and became the 35th member of the school’s 1,000-point club. The frontcourt is led by 6-10 senior center Daniel Amigo, who averages 16 points and 4.8 boards for a Pioneers team that is turning the ball over 16.8 times per game.
ABOUT STANFORD (4-6): The shorthanded Cardinal hope to have Pickens and Sheffield back from their foot injuries in time for the Pac-12 opener against California on Dec. 30, but Haase wasn’t able to say when freshman Kezie Okpala might be cleared academically to return. The limited bench has resulted in extra minutes for several players, including freshman guard Isaac White, who made five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points in the loss to Long Beach State. Senior forward Michael Humphrey is averaging 11.1 points and 8.6 rebounds for the season while shooting 52.2 percent from the field over his last three games.
1. Stanford holds a 10-2 lead in the all-time series, including a 49-43 win in the last meeting on Dec. 13, 2014.
2. Denver is facing its second Pac-12 opponent of the season after losing 89-62 at Colorado on Nov. 14.
3. Stanford hosts San Francisco on Sunday before visiting No. 12 Kansas on Dec. 21.
PREDICTION: Stanford 72, Denver 59