Though its recent road trip to the mountains brought two losses for Stanford men’s basketball (16-7, 5-5 Pac-12), two more chances for the Cardinal to bounce back come on Thursday and Saturday when the teams from Arizona visit the Farm. ASU (15-8, 6-4 Pac-12) is first on the agenda, and the Wildcats (16-7, 6-4 Pac-12) will close out the weekend action at Maples Pavilion.
Stanford opened conference play with four straight wins, including the program’s first victory over UCLA in Pauley Pavilion since the 2003-04 season. In the same trip to LA, however, the Cardinal relinquished a 21-point, second-half lead over USC to be handed its first loss — an 82-78 overtime decision — at the hands of a Pac-12 foe. Since then, the Cardinal has crumbled in four of its five most-recent contests, including a Jan. 26 battle against Bay Area rival, Cal (10-13, 4-6 Pac-12).
Many of Stanford’s struggles as of late have been in the shooting department: Though the team has preserved a 47% success rate from the field on nearly 450 attempts, all five of Stanford’s performances since the fated meeting against USC have failed to hit the mark. A season-low 35.4% shooting percentage came in Salt Lake City against the Utes on Feb. 6 when the visiting Cardinal was only able to sink 9 of 29 before the break en route to a 6-point deficit at the half. Stanford took advantage of Utah’s atrocious 6-for-25 job in the second half to force the contest to overtime, but a 2-for-10 effort by Stanford in the extra minutes crushed any hope of a Cardinal comeback.
Twenty turnovers were also damaging to Stanford’s chances against the Utes and could play a similar role against both the Sun Devils and the Wildcats. Stanford’s Thursday-night opponent ASU has committed the crime an average of 13.6 times per game while forcing their opponents to do so 16.4 times and converting the errors into 17.4 points per game. Meanwhile the Wildcats have handed over the ball even less with an average of just 11.3 turnovers over 23 games. With 18 points per game being the average product of their opponents’ errors, pressuring both Arizona schools to forfeit the ball will be crucial for the Cardinal.
Additionally, Stanford will have to address the offensive threat of ASU’s Remy Martin. One of the top-five scorers in the Pac-12, Martin — a junior guard for the Sun Devils — tops the team’s stat sheet, averaging 19.3 points, four assists and just under two steals per performance. Martin is the only top-five scorer the Cardinal has not yet faced. The other four — OSU’s Tres Tinkle, Oregon’s Payton Pritchard, WSU’s CJ Elleby and Utah’s Timmy Allen — were held to under 30% success from the field against Stanford’s defense.
On Stanford’s side of the offensive game, scoring has been led by junior forward Oscar da Silva with 15.9 points per game. In Stanford’s most recent meeting with the Buffaloes on Saturday, da Silva left the game with 16:28 minutes of play remaining after hitting his head on the floor following a collision with Colorado’s Evan Battey.
Cardinal versus Sun Devil action will start Thursday night at 8 p.m. PT at Maples Pavilion.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.