The Stanford men’s basketball team returns to campus tonight to face Washington State at Maples Pavilion. The contest opens a three-game homestand that will also include games against Washington and California.
The Cardinal (9-6, 0-2 Pac-12) enters tonight’s game needing a win to erase memories of a conference-opening, two-game losing streak that has left Stanford second-to-last in the Pac-12 standings. The Cougars (9-5, 0-1) have had a similar season so far and also started Pac-12 play with an 81-69 loss against the in-state rival Huskies last weekend.
The game against Washington (9-5, 1-0) will then follow this Saturday and the Battle of the Bay against Berkeley (9-5, 1-1) will be played a week later on Saturday, Jan. 19.
This will be Stanford’s longest homestand of the conference season and comes at a crucial time for the Cardinal. Ahead of the start of the Pac-12, Stanford was picked to finish fourth by conference coaches, in comparison to the Cougars’ preseason prediction of 10th, so the team will be hoping for a significant improvement.
Last year Stanford lost just two Pac-12 games at Maples and so far this season is 6-1 in home games. Washington State, in comparison, has played just one true road game this year, an early-season 58-56 overtime loss to Pepperdine, and is an even 2-2 in games played at neutral sites.
Stanford junior forward Dwight Powell’s performance will be crucial tonight. In the three games he has played so far in his career against the Cougars, he has averaged 10.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He also grabbed his third double-double of the year in the 68-60 loss to UCLA last weekend, with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Alongside Powell, the Card will look to sophomore guard Chasson Randle, who also scored 17 points against the Bruins for his highest total since late November, and junior forward Josh Huestis, who notched up his sixth double-figure rebound game on Saturday. Junior forward John Gage also had another strong performance last weekend, contributing 10 points to Stanford’s total.
However, Stanford will also hope to rely on other players like Aaron Bright, whose 31.9 percent shooting average for this season so far is in stark contrast to his career record of 16.7 percent against Washington State.
The Cougars are led by senior forward Brock Motum, with an average of 19.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, together with sophomore guard DaVonte Lacy (11.6 points per game) and redshirt senior guard Mike Ladd (9.4 points per game). In Washington State’s loss on Saturday to Washington, Ladd, Motum and Lacy all scored in double figures, with 16, 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Washington State also has the best defense in the Pac-12, allowing just 56.1 points per game, while Stanford’s scoring offense is just ninth in the conference, at 69.5 points per game, two spots ahead of Washington State’s 63.9.
The contest between Stanford and Washington State tips off at 7 p.m. tonight at Maples Pavilion and will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks and on KZSU and KNBR radio.