By Quinn Barry
The Cardinal’s only realistic chance to make the NCAA top 64 this year requires winning the Pac-12 Tournament.
Stanford men’s basketball (14-13, 8-6 Pac-12) can get a step closer to that goal today, when it battles the Washington Huskies (18-9, 8-6 Pac-12) for sole possession of fifth place in the conference. The top four Pac-12 teams will receive a bye in the conference tournament.
The last time these two teams faced each other was mid-January, in Seattle. There, Seattle-native Daejon Davis dropped 16 points and pulled in 10 rebounds to guide the Cardinal to a 73-64 victory.
But the Huskies have found their footing over the last month. Since Jan. 16, Washington sports a 6-3 record. Stanford has lost five of nine over that same stretch.
One silver lining for the Cardinal, though, is the increased offensive production from their freshman in the month of February.
Stanford head coach Jerod Haase will again look to Davis for a repeat of his strong performance on Sunday at Berkeley. In a 77-73 victory over Cal, Davis posted a game-high 22 points, while adding seven rebounds and five assists.
Freshman forward KZ Okpala will likely be tasked with taming Huskies freshman Jaylen Nowell. Nowell leads Washington in scoring (16.0 points per game) and is shooting 35 percent from downtown.
As a team, the Huskies have attempted more three-point field goals than any other Pac-12 squad. Much of the burden to protect the three-point line will fall on Okpala.
Meanwhile, senior forward Reid Travis should give Washington fits on the boards. The Huskies rank second-to-last in the Pac-12 in rebounding margin, while only Arizona bests the Cardinal in that regard.
Forwards senior Michael Humphrey, freshman Oscar Da Silva and sophomore Josh Sharma, all of whom can guard the paint, grab rebounds and stretch the floor, could make the difference tonight.
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Quinn Barry at qmbarry ‘at’ stanford.edu.