By Stephen Ren
With just five games remaining in conference play, the Stanford men’s basketball team (14-11, 7-6 Pac-12) visits Arizona State (17-8, 8-5) this Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. The Cardinal have won their last three against the Sun Devils, including an 85-71 victory earlier this season at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford has been on a roll, winning five of their last six games. Most recently, the Cardinal defended home court against southern California rival UCLA (13-13, 6-7).
In the 104-80 victory, big man Josh Sharma put on a breakout performance, recording a double-double and team highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds on 10-11 shooting. Sharma was honored with the Pac-12 player of the week, and his astronomical 69 percent season field goal percentage so far marks the highest ever in school history, putting him ahead of previous record holder John Revelli (67 percent), who set his record in 1983.
Sophomore forward KZ Okpala also casually dropped a 20-piece against the Bruins, as he continues to shine consistently for Stanford.
The importance of sophomore point guard Daejon Davis’s return could not be understated — the man looked like he was auditioning for a State Farm assist commercial, dishing out 11 dimes in the contest to go with 12 points and two steals. His facilitation on the court markedly elevated the play of the whole Cardinal squad, as Stanford had five players score in the double digits.
The Cardinal seeks to ride their momentum as they look to repeat a season sweep of the Sun Devils. A win would improve their rankings to fourth in the conference.
Arizona State is coming off a 98-87 win against the Utah Utes (14-11, 8-5 Pac-12), but unlike Stanford, who is enjoying their best stretch of performances all season, the Sun Devils have been on and off recently, alternating losses and wins in their last six games. That being said, Arizona State is not an opponent to be taken lightly, especially considering they are tied for third in the conference. With the post-season coming up, each win carries more and more weight, and Stanford must maintain the same intensity and energy they enjoyed at Maples as they hit the road.
Looking ahead, Stanford will play against Arizona on Sunday, before finishing off the regular season with a three game homestay starting with Washington State on Thursday.
Contact Stephen Ren at rensteph ‘at’ stanford.edu