Stanford (14-9) at Arizona State (18-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 9, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wells Fargo Arena (10,754) -- Temple, Arizona. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Stanford 10-2. ASU 14-2. Away Record: Stanford 2-5, ASU 3-2. Neutral Record: Stanford 2-2, ASU 1-1. Conference Record: Stanford 5-5, ASU 7-3. Series Record: Stanford leads, 43-30.
GAMES NOTES: In a critical Pac-12 Conference battle the Stanford Cardinal will visit the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday.
Though it came up short against No. 7 Arizona on Wednesday, 73-66, Stanford has begun to right the ship as it prepares for the stretch run. The Cardinal won three straight and four of its previous five before the setback to the Wildcats and are now 14-9 overall. Stanford has also clawed its way to an even 5-5 in conference play. Playing on the road isn't likely to improve matters though as the loss to Arizona was the fifth in seven tries for Stanford, which plays host to USC next.
Arizona State bounced back from a tough 96-92 loss to Washington by holding off California, 66-62, on Thursday. The Sun Devils have surprised a lot of people this season en route to an impressive 18-5 overall record which including a 7-3 ledger against league foes. That mark has the Sun Devils tied for second with Oregon and UCLA and a game back of Arizona for the top spot in the Pac-12. Arizona State has defended its home floor well with a 14-2 mark at Wells Fargo Arena, but up next the Sun Devils visit Utah.
The last time these teams met Stanford knocked Arizona State out of the Pac-12 Tournament with an 85-65 rout last season. The victory was the fifth straight for the Cardinal, who lead the all-time series, 43-30.
Although a loss is never a positive, the Cardinal can take some solace in the fight they put up against the seventh-ranked Wildcats. The Cardinal led 27-26 at halftime and never trailed by double digits in the contest. The difference in the game was offensive execution, as the Cardinal shot just 37.9 percent from the floor, while allowing the Wildcats to put in 46.3 percent.
Erratic shooting has been the Achilles' heel for Stanford this season. Though the Cardinal score a respectable 70.1 points per game, they are shooting a conference-worst 41 percent from the floor. Luckily Stanford hasn't let many teams run by it by holding foes to 41.6 percent shooting and just 64.6 points per game. Dwight Powell (14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Chasson Randle (14.0 ppg) are the two top scoring threats on the roster, while Josh Huestis (9.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg) has been a solid contributor in the paint with his ability to rebound and protect the rim.
Though they led by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Sun Devils had to hold off a late charge from California to pull out the win on Saturday. The Golden Bears went on a 17-4 run in the final minutes to pull within two points but the Sun Devils forced a turnover and a miss on California's last two possessions to hold on.
Efficiency is the key for Arizona State. The Sun Devils lead the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (.465), managing to hand out the third most assists (14.7 pg) and score the fourth most points (73.3 pg). The Sun Devils have one of the most talented starting fives in the country led by super freshman Jahii Carson (18.0 ppg, 5.2 apg), who is fifth in the league in scoring and second in assists. Carrick Felix (14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg) has not disappointed in his senior season. Evan Gordon (11.4 ppg) isn't called on to score a ton but he is averaging 16.2 points per game in the last five contests, while hitting 39 of his last 97 shots from beyond the arc. Jordan Bachynski (9.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 4.0 bpg) makes his impact on the defensive end as the conference's leading shot blocker.
If Stanford can build off the effort it put forth against Arizona the Cardinal could grab a crucial win. However, the Sun Devils are just too talented for Stanford to go in a pull off a win at the Wells Fargo Arena, where Arizona State has been so dominant.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 70, Stanford 65
02/09 10:33:20 ET