Stanford’s 75-52 victory over UC Davis at Maples Pavilion on Saturday provided all you need to know about Dwight Powell’s college career.
The first half exemplified the exasperating version of Powell, as he picked up three quick fouls, played just two minutes and went scoreless. For whatever reason, he tends to disappear at times – sometimes for entire games – making you wonder where all that talent he possesses went.
Then came the second half, when the 6-foot-9 Powell showed the amazing versatility and talent that make him a potential pro player. He scored 20 points in the second half in just 16 minutes of action and did it every way imaginable. One basket came off a drive from the top of the key that was capped by a left-handed dunk. Then there was a nice post move that ended with a pretty eight-foot half hook. Then there was a soft, confident 16-footer. That was followed by a tip-in dunk, then a bucket on a run-out as he beat everyone down the floor, then a dunk off an alley-oop pass, And he got to the free throw line 10 times, making eight.
He was comfortable, and when he’s comfortable and confident, he can dominate a game, as he did against San Francisco in a victory and as he did against Minnesota in a near upset win.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the performance Saturday was that Powell was able to dismiss his poor first half in time to dominate the second.
Of course, a dominating performance against Davis does not mean Powell can do the same against Pac-12 opponents. The Aggies (1-6) were picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Big West, but they had been in every game coming into Saturday’s contest. They lost to No. 24 Oklahoma State by eight, and led that game with 10 minutes left. And all of their losses had been by single-digit margins.
And they were in the game against Stanford before Powell took over. The Cardinal (7-3) led by seven a few minutes into the second half before Powell scored 12 of the Cardinal’s next 14 points. That made it a 14-point Stanford lead, and the game quickly became a blowout.
There are still concerns for Stanford, though. Aaron Bright hit two three-pointers, which represents progress for a player who had just one three-pointer coming into the game. But he was just 2-for-7 from long range and is just 3-for-21 on three-pointers for the season.
Chasson Randle, the Cardinal’s other main long-range threat, was just 1-for-9 on threes against Davis and is just 11-for-51 from beyond the three-point line for the season.
Randle and Bright both shot better than 43 percent on three-pointers last season, but they are a combined 14-for-72 (19.4 percent) on three-pointers this season. They need to start hitting from the perimeter for Stanford to challenge for a conference title.