Stanford Preview

After a forgettable weekend in the chilly Northwest, the Arizona State Sun Devils (21-7, 10-6) return home to take on the Bay Area schools in the final weekend of the regular season. The first test will be against the Stanford Cardinal (16-11, 5-11) on Thursday night.

The Sun Devils played an extra frame in each game last weekend and came up short in both.

In the first overtime defeat, the Devils fell to Washington in a thrilling game, 73-70. For ASU, Jeff Pendergraph had 24 points and 13 boards while James Harden added 19. Jon Brockman had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Huskies.

In the weekend finale, the Sun Devils had their hearts broken in Pullman, 51-49, when Taylor Rochestie nailed a 30-footer to win the game in Overtime. Leading the Devils was Harden with 13 while Derek Glasser and Jamelle McMillan added 10 apiece. Klay Thompson scored 17 for Wazzu.

Stanford split their final home series with the Los Angeles schools including a dramatic come-from-behind win against USC on an emotional Senior Night.

In the first game, the Cardinal fell to the UCLA Bruins, 76-71. Anthony Goods scored 18 and Landry Fields had 16 for Stanford while the Bruins were led by Josh Shipp's 24 points.

In the final home game of the season, Stanford outscored USC 40-17 in the game's final 11 minutes to win 75-63. All four Cardinal seniors scored in double-digits highlighted by Goods' 20 points.

Head Coach – Johnny Dawkins

Projected Starters

G – Mitch Johnson – (7.1 PPG, 4.4 APG)
G – Anthony Goods – (15.9 PPG, 40% 3PT)
G – Landry Fields – (12.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG)
F – Lawrence Hill – (13.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
F – Josh Owens – (7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG)

Impact Reserves

G – Kenny Brown
G – Jeremy Green
F – Will Paul

Recent Matchup

The Sun Devils opened the Pac-10 slate with a flat-out dominating 90-60 victory over the Cardinal at Maples Pavilion. Jeff Pendergraph scored a career-high 31 points and pulled down 11 rebounds while James Harden dumped in 17 points with 10 assists. Stanford was led by Glendale native, Lawrence Hill, with 14 – the only Cardinal in double figures.

Key Stat

18-23. ASU's two big men, Jeff Pendergraph and Eric Boateng were 18-23 from the floor against an undermanned and undersized Stanford inside presence. For the Sun Devils to put away the Cardinal, Pendergraph needs to wreak havoc again and Boateng needs to be productive off the bench.

When the Sun Devils have the ball

Well, it'd be nice if the Sun Devils could just give it to Pendergraph and he could just go off for 31 again and let Harden do his thing. But on the other hand, with postseason play approaching, it would be a welcomed sight to see some balanced scoring with Glasser, Abbott and Kuksiks getting in on the act.

Harden was the engine that made the Devils go in the last meeting between these two as he dished out 10 assists and found the open man every time down the floor. If the Devils can work the ball around and hit open shots on the perimeter, the inside battle will be all ASU and the score should reflect that in favor of the Sun Devils.

When the Cardinal have the ball

A strong three-point shooting team with great chemistry, Stanford will need to improve greatly upon their 2-18 performance from long distance in the first game against ASU.

With Anthony Goods and Landry Fields, the Cardinal are capable of putting up points in a hurry and will have to rely on smart play from Mitch Johnson and a good outing down low from Hill and Josh Owens. If these guys can knock down their threes, the game will within reach for Stanford.

X-Factor

James Harden. In the two games in Washington, Harden was solid but neither game was a consistent effort. Harden needs to play well for all 40 minutes and needs to stay out of foul trouble. Without Harden being effective on offense, ASU normally has trouble creating open looks and Harden's presence alone naturally changes all that. If the sensational sophomore can be a force the whole game, Stanford simply doesn't stand a chance.

Who will win and why?

Arizona State was eliminated from the Pac-10 conference title race after getting swept last weekend and that certainly doesn't sit well with the Sun Devils and the goals they had put forward for themselves at the beginning of the year.

They will have a great opportunity to enter the Pac-10 Tournament on a high note if they can earn a home sweep this weekend. Stanford is a quality ballclub but ASU will be playing with a high flame lit underneath them and win it going away.

Final Score – ASU 74 Stanford 62


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