The Stanford Cardinal (13-11, 6-6 Pac-12) will take on the UCLA Bruins (13-12, 6-6 ) in a widely anticipated home game on Saturday night. The two teams faced off earlier this year when Stanford endured a crushing 22-point defeat by the Southern California powerhouse during their Pac-12 opener.
The Bruins are led by their superstar big man, center Moses Brown. Brown has been selected as one of the ten finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Brown is a freshman from Queens, NY and holds the distinction of being the highest scorer on the UCLA team and second in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage at 65.2 percent. In the last meeting between these two teams, Brown added 17 points to UCLA’s win against the Cardinal.
Similar to Brown, Stanford sophomore forward KZ Okpala was named one of the finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. Okpala is averaging 17.7 points per game and scored 30 points in Stanford’s recent win against Cal, a record-high for his career. Moreover, Okpala has played in every game this season, excluding the showdown against Washington State that he missed due to a back injury, and is expected to help lead his team to a victory on Saturday.
In a roundtable discussion published in Wednesday’s paper, The Daily’s sports commentators spoke on the promising upcoming victory, considering Stanford’s ninth-place rank in the Pac-12 and three-game winning streak against Colorado (15-9, 6-6), Cal (5-19, 0-12) and Oregon State (15-8, 7-4), which was unfortunately interrupted by this week’s devastating loss against the University of Oregon. Staff writer King Jemison surmised that, “Stanford has a chance to earn a top-four seed in the Pac-12 tournament and thus give themselves a first-round bye.” Beating USC and UCLA could set Stanford on its path to the Pac-12’s top four and secure a spot competing in March Madness. Taking down the Trojans on Wednesday has already vaulted the Cardinal into a four way tie for sixth place in the conference.
Stanford’s sophomore point guard, Daejon Davis is expected to play on Saturday after playing a total of thirteen minutes in last week’s game against Oregon State. His absence, caused by a head injury, may have contributed to Stanford’s later loss against the Oregon Ducks. The all-star has assisted on 160 shots and has scored 264 points this season, averaging 12.6 points each game.
In last night’s exciting last-second victory over the USC Trojans, Davis was still absent due to injury. When the two teams faced off last season, Davis caused an uproar and sent the Trojans home with a glorious buzzer-beater, half-court shot. The Cardinal had an equally exciting win last night as Davis’s replacement, Bryce Wills plowed through the court with a marvelous layup that gave Stanford a one point lead with only twenty seconds left to the buzzer. The iconic showdown against USC prepared Stanford to take on UCLA with the same level of passion and intensity.
The Cardinal will face off the Bruins on Saturday before taking another shot at a winning-streak when they attempt to destroy Arizona State and take revenge on Arizona next week.
Contact Leily Rezvani at lrezvani ‘at’ stanford.edu.