Not many people were on hand at Maples Pavilion to witness it, but Stanford’s 69-51 victory over overmatched Alcorn State on Thursday gave the Cardinal the longest current winning streak in Division I men’s basketball.
The win before a tiny home crowd gives the Cardinal a 3-0 record and eight straight victories dating back to last season, when it won the NIT.
Kentucky, which won the NCAA Tournament last season, had its winning streak stopped by Duke earlier this week, and Mercer, which won the CollegeInsider.com tournament last season, has won seven straight and could tie Stanford with a win over George Mason on Friday.
None of that is of major significance at this stage of the season. What’s more significant is that Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins made his first lineup change of the year just three games into the season, putting center Stefan Nastic in the starting five in place of slumping swingman Anthony Brown.
The star of the game was Stanford forward Josh Huestis, who continues to improve and may be the best all-around player on the team at the moment.
The 6-8 Huestis tied a career high with 18 points, hitting 8 of 10 shots with a variety of inside and outside moves. He even hit a three-pointer and is 4-for-7 from beyond the arc in the Cardinal’s first three games. He added nine rebounds and two blocks Thursday, and is the Cardinal’s best defensive player.
Doing it against an Alcorn State team that went 10-22 last season and is picked to finish eighth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this year diminishes the accomplishment somewhat, but he is clearly one of Stanford’s best players — and getting better.
Stanford’s presumed stars are guard Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle, but neither had a particularly good game Thursday. Bright was 1-for-7 from the field, had just two assists and scored all nine of his points in the final 13 minutes after Stanford already had a 13-point lead. Randle scored 10 points on 3-for-11 shooting and committed five turnovers.
In fact, none of the Stanford players other than Huesits shot well, as the Cardinal finished shooting just 34.4 percent from the floor. Missing so many shots helped the Cardinal pile up 21 offensive rebounds, as the Cardinal outrebounded Alcorn State 47-28.
Dwight Powell, who had 27 points in the opener against San Francisco, had just six points on 2-for-8 shooting on Thursday, but he did pull down 10 rebounds.
The freshman who’s been getting the most playing time early in the season is guard Christian Sanders. He played 13 minutes, most of it coming when the game was still in doubt,