GAME NOTES: Coming off a big win, the Stanford Cardinal kick off their final road trip of the season, beginning with this evening's Pac-12 Conference clash with the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena.
With its 83-74 triumph over UCLA on Saturday, Stanford improved to 18-8 overall and 9-5 in league play. The Cardinal is now tied with California for third place in the conference standings, sitting just a game behind the same UCLA team they just defeated. They face an even greater challenge next time out when they contend with third-ranked Arizona.
Arizona State has hit a bump in the road, with losses in back-to-back games, including an 86-63 embarrassment against Utah on Sunday. The Sun Devils are still sporting a solid 19-8 overall record, while trailing the Cardinal and Golden Bears, who they play next, by a game in the conference standings (8-6).
When these teams met at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 1, Stanford claimed a 76-70 victory. The win was the seventh in the last eight meetings for the Cardinal, who lead the all-time series by a 45-31 margin.
Chasson Randle hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 26 points as Stanford shot its way past UCLA. The Cardinal sank an astounding 62.2 percent of their total shots, including 11-of-20 from beyond the arc, to knock off the highest scoring team in the Pac-12.
It was quite an offensive showing for Stanford, considering the team nets a solid, yet unspectacular 75.7 ppg on 46.8 percent field goal efficiency, ranking fourth and sixth in the conference, respectively. Stanford is more of a defensive-minded unit, limiting foes to 68.7 ppg on 41.1 percent shooting. Randle (18.8 ppg) is one of four talented scorers the Cardinal rely upon, ranking second in the Pac-12 in scoring following his outstanding effort against UCLA. Dwight Powell (14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.8 apg) is one of the more versatile forwards in the conference, and Anthony Brown (13.5 ppg) and Josh Huestis (11.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2 bpg) also figure in the mix.
With top scorers Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall limited to 15 combined points on 6-of-23 shooting, the Sun Devils faltered offensively in their recent loss to Utah. As a team, Arizona State only sank 30.8 percent of its shots from the field, while being outscored, 38-26, in the paint.
Carson (18.4 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Marshall (15.5 ppg) are the anchors for the Sun Devils on offense, often carrying the scoring load by themselves. With each struggling to find their stroke, the Sun Devils clearly did not have the offensive firepower to claim a victory the last time out. As a team, ASU is netting 75.4 ppg on 45.1 percent shooting, but beyond Carson and Marshall, only Jordan Bachynski (11.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 4.4 bpg) is averaging in double figures. However, Bachynski's impact is mostly felt on the glass and at the defensive end, as he leads the nation in blocked shots. Shaquielle McKissic (8.8 ppg) was the best scorer against Utah, finishing with 16 points.
Although Arizona State hasn't always been consistent this season, it has found a great deal of success at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils are 14-1 on their home floor and should benefit from some home cooking in this clash.
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