Two of the top newcomers in the Pac-12 Conference go head-to-head for the first time Thursday night when Stanford visits Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.
The Cardinal (5-2, 1-0) have a four-game winning streak and the Beavers (4-3, 0-1) have won two straight heading into the heart of the league schedule.
Stanford already has an impressive conference win under its belt, having dispatched Arizona 78-75 on Dec. 19 behind 21 points and seven rebounds from Oscar da Silva.
Highly touted freshman Ziaire Williams contributed 16 points and four assists to the win, before going for 17 in the Cardinal’s most recent game, a 63-50 win Monday over Cal State Bakersfield.
The consensus No. 1 small forward prospect in the Class of 2020 and a teammate of LeBron James’ son Bronny at Sierra Canyon High in Southern California last season, Williams has impressed head coach Jerod Haase with his willingness to build upon his lofty prep accomplishments.
“The more experience he gets, the better it’s going to be,” Haase observed. “As his comfort level continues to rise, I think his play is going to continue to be more and more efficient.”
The 6-foot-8 Williams will match up Thursday with Oregon State’s 6-7 Warith Alatishe, who has wasted no time making a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest after transferring from Nicholls State.
Alatishe had 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Beavers’ most recent action, a 67-62 win over Portland State on Dec. 22. It was his second double-double in seven games, having recorded the other in his Pac-12 debut at Washington State with 11 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 2.
The junior easily could have had three other double-doubles, having recorded nine points twice and eight or nine rebounds on two other occasions.
As with Stanford’s Williams, who averages 12.0 points and 5.9 rebounds, Alatishe’s numbers have been rather modest to date (10.4 points, 9.1 rebounds), not a true indication of his contribution to the team.
“Just his energy out there makes a difference in the game,” Oregon State senior Zach Reichle noted. “I think his intangibles are really good as well. He does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
The Beavers swept both meetings last season, but Stanford has otherwise dominated the series in recent years. The Cardinal won 10 of 12 from 2011-19.
–Field Level Media
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