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From left, Stanford guard Aaron Bright, center Stefan Nastic and forward Dwight Powell celebrate as time runs out in the second half of Stanford's 74-50 victory over Colorado in an NCAA basketball game in Boulder, Colo., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

BOULDER, Colo. -- Stanford hadn't played this well since the last time it faced Colorado.

The Cardinal dealt a huge blow to the Buffaloes' dreams of winning the first Pac-12 Conference title with a 74-50 thrashing Thursday night at the Coors Events Center.

Stanford beat Colorado 84-64 at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 14 to pull into a tie for first place in the conference, but had lost seven of nine games since.

The rematch figured to be tougher. But the mile-high altitude didn't bother Stanford, and neither did the Buffaloes, who suffered their worst defeat of the season.

"I don't think any of the guys noticed," sophomore Dwight Powell said of the 5,345-foot elevation. "We came here to play basketball, not climb mountains."

The Cardinal (19-9, 9-7) played near-perfect basketball for most of the first half, sculpting a 40-20 lead in a building where the Buffaloes (18-9, 10-5) had lost just once in 14 games and were unbeaten in Pac-12 games.

"Our guys were terrific, especially on the road. It was our best road win," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "It was really fun to watch our guys grow in an atmosphere like this."

A near-capacity crowd of 11,036 arrived hoping the Buffs could set up a duel for first place with Cal on Sunday. Stanford, led by 20 points from freshman guard Chasson Randle, built leads of 9-1, 25-8 and 40-18.

"I don't know what to say after that one other than it was an old-fashioned butt-whippin'," said coach Tad Boyle, whose CU team fell two games behind Cal and Washington in the loss column with three games to play.

It was over early. A few first-half highlights:

  • Forward John Gage came off the bench to hit 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc, triggering a 7-for-12 performance by the Cardinal from the 3-point arc. Randle and Aaron Bright each had two 3-pointers by halftime.

  • Stanford forged a 27-12 advantage on the boards against the Pac-12's leader in rebounding margin.

  • The Cardinal defense held CU without a 2-point field goal until Andre Roberson scored a layup with 3:33 left in the half. Clearly bothered by Stanford's size, the Buffs missed their first 15 attempts from inside the 3-point arc and finished the half 3 for 20 on 2-point tries, 6 for 29 overall.

    Colorado's 20.7-percent shooting was its eighth-worst in a half since the 1954-55 season. The Buffs finished at 29.6 percent for the game, made just 4 of 19 shots from the 3-point line and were 14 for 30 on free throws.

    Meanwhile, the Cardinal's perimeter shooting excellence followed a nine-game span in which Stanford converted just 31.1 percent from the 3-point line.

    "We've defended pretty well all season long," Dawkins said. "We just need to complement it on the offensive end. When those two things are working for us, we can compete."

    Stanford immediately stretched its lead to 47-22 with a 7-2 burst to open the second half. When Randle scored eight straight points midway through the period, the Cardinal's lead swelled to 57-28.

    CU never got closer than 23 the rest of the way.

    Senior Josh Owens contributed nine points and 12 rebounds as the Cardinal wound up with a 50-26 advantage on the boards.

    Even with the victory, Stanford remains alone in seventh place, a half-game behind UCLA. But the Cardinal got a confidence boost just two weeks before the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

    "It's good for us," Powell said, "showing ourselves how good we can play."