OAKLAND -- Whatever carry-over Stanford might have been expecting from its NIT championship last spring took awhile to materialize Friday night.
The Cardinal did leave Oracle Arena with a 74-62 victory over USF in the season opener for both men's basketball teams, but the Pac-12 school had a nervous moment or two facing the smaller West Coast Conference school that trailed by only one point at the half.
Stanford's Dwight Powell led all scorers with a career-high 27 points, while Avry Holmes topped USF with 17 points in a neutral site game where the sparse crowd filled only about a third of Oracle's lower bowl.
While Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said he wasn't happy with his team's defensive play, he did find things to praise.
"I liked the fact we were very unselfish. We had 15 assists and only six turnovers. It showed a maturity on the court," he said. "Our shot selection was good. Guys got the shots where they're best at shooting them."
Both Dawkins and USF coach Rex Walters are starting their fifth season in their current jobs, with expectations decidedly higher for the Cardinal coach under pressure to produce his first NCAA tournament team. Walters, in contrast, is rebuilding a program that saw six players expected to return go elsewhere.
"Offensively, we were inept," Walters said in assessing USF's performance. "We didn't play for each other, and guys were trying to do too much."
And he didn't spare his team's performance even in a first half when Stanford needed a basket by Chasson Randle with less than two seconds left to go into the locker room with a 32-31 lead.
"Avry made some shots, but it's fool's gold," he said.
The teams traded baskets early on before Stanford went on a 13-0 roll en route to what would be 21-7 lead before the Dons not only got themselves back into the game but took a one-point lead on successive 3-point shots by Holmes and Cody Doolin.
Stanford never trailed in the second half as the Cardinal again went on an early roll, with seven straight points by Powell putting the Dons in a 51-36 hole.
The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Powell displayed the benefits that came from bulking up in an offseason that saw him gain about 15 pounds. He was 9 of 14 from the field -- including 2 of 3 from 3-point range arc -- and 7 of 9 from the foul line.
Powell did give the crowd a scare with only 1:35 left when he crashed to the court in apparent pain, then had to be helped to the bench. The problem turned out to be a muscle cramp.
"I just didn't drink enough fluids," he said, adding he learned his lesson.
Cal State Fullerton (0-0) at Stanford (1-0), 8:30 p.m. Pac-12 Networks