Despite multiple road losses this season, and facing an opponent that has consistent home-court advantage, the Stanford men’s basketball team powered past Arizona State last night in its first Pac-10 road game. With a 55-41 victory over the Sun Devils (8-6, 1-2 Pac-10), the Cardinal is on a three-game winning streak and remains undefeated in conference play.
The win for the Card (9-4, 2-0) is particularly impressive because of Arizona State’s overwhelming success on its home court in Tempe. During the past three years, the Sun Devils have won 80 percent of their games in Wells Fargo Arena. This season, however, the team has only competed at home six times, including its loss to the Cardinal. With such a travel-heavy schedule, Arizona State has had more away games than any other major-conference school so far this season.
Nonetheless, the Sun Devils’ lack of recent home experience worked in Stanford’s favor, as the Card held the lead for the entire duration of the game, with the exception of the first three minutes.
The game was not decided until the second half, when Arizona State’s offense crumbled, severely weakened by the absence of injured senior point guard Jamelle McMillan. Poor play from both teams marked the first half, with seven Cardinal turnovers and 12 from the Sun Devils. The prospect of a Stanford victory was especially uncertain at the half because of Arizona State’s domination on the glass, which was an unexpected surprise for a team that was ranked 176th in rebounding heading into conference play.
During the second half, however, Stanford’s offense exploded and scored 30 points, compared to just 18 for the Sun Devils. The Card also racked up 25 rebounds and compensated for its lack of presence on the boards in the first half.
Junior forward Josh Owens was a key contributor to Stanford’s win, leading the team with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Trent Lockett, Ruslan Pateev and Carrick Felix had 10 points each for Arizona State. The team’s overall offensive effort was weak, scoring only one of 14 from the three-point range.
Hoping to tack on a third consecutive Pac-10 win, Stanford now heads to Tucson to face Arizona (13-3, 2-1). The Wildcats have won five of their last six games, including last night’s 73-71 win over California, and have not been defeated in back-to-back games so far this season. The Cats lead the Pac-10 in field goal shooting percentage and average 78.5 points per game, posing a serious challenge to the Cardinal defense.
Derrick Williams (18.6 points per game), Solomon Hill (53.2-percent field-goal shooting) and Lamont Jones (8.1 ppg, 81.8-percent free-throw shooting) are expected to lead Arizona’s offensive effort. Stanford intends to counter this trio by utilizing junior guard Jeremy Green, who has been very effective in his four career games against the Wildcats. Green has averaged 16.5 points against Arizona, with 24 total buckets and 66 total points, more than against any other Pac-10 team. Junior guard Jarrett Mann has also experienced significant success when facing the Wildcats, having made eight of his 11 attempts from the field and averaging 7.3 points in his three career matchups with Arizona.
But even with these offensive contributions, Stanford’s ability to knock down perimeter shots and remain strong on the defensive end will be the key to success against Arizona. The Card currently allows just 61.0 points per game, a figure that leads the Pac-10 and was essential in its wins over Yale and Cal. In fact, Stanford has held four opponents to fewer than 50 points this season and has also held the edge on the glass, averaging 34.9 rebounds per game.
The continuation of this defensive dominance, coupled with the momentum from the current win streak, should help Stanford as it hopes to head home after the weekend with a sweep in the Southwest and a perfect Pac-10 record.
Tipoff on Saturday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PST in Tucson.