Stanford Playing Under Saturday Night Lights

After dropping a tough game to Arizona, the Stanford Cardinal hope Saturday night's alright for winning.

On Thursday, Stanford could not get the job done in prime time. Now, they’ll have to work the late shift to get back in the win column.

After having a three-game winning steak snapped, Stanford (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12; Coaches #25) welcomes Arizona State to Maples for a television-friendly 9 p.m. tipoff. The Sun Devils (10-9, 2-4; RPI #120) mauled the Bears in Berkeley on Thursday night.

Stanford never quit against Arizona, but they did not have enough against the Wildcats when it was needed most. A 14-4 Wildcat run midway through the second half swung the game firmly in Arizona’s favor. A scoring drought by the Cardinal helped the Wildcats stay there.

After allowing a season-high 89 points and 56% field goal percentage, Stanford players knew exactly what to blame for the loss. “Defense. We didn’t get enough stops,” Chasson Randle said. “Any time you give up 80-plus points, that’s a recipe for losing. We’ve got to fix that.”

With Grant Verhoeven (hip; out indefinitely) and Reid Travis (thigh) still on the mend, the Cardinal’s depth on the front line was stretched to the point where Johnny Dawkins had to reach down the hall to grab Nick Davidson from the football program. Davidson, a 6-foot-7, 288 pounder, is expected to provide an extra big body in practice. Fifth-year senior Elliott Bullock saw his first action in two months, and held his own in eight minutes against the Wildcats.

Chasson Randle’s three-pointer late in the first half against Arizona gave him 2,000 points for his Stanford career, but the loss prevented Randle from celebrating or reflecting afterwards. “I play the game to win, and we didn’t do that,” he shrugged. “Later on in life I can look back and say ‘yeah, I scored 2,000 points.’ But we didn’t get the win.”

Another milestone looms for Randle, as he enters Saturday night’s game just twelve minutes away from toppling Todd Lichti atop Stanford’s list of career minutes played. Meanwhile, Anthony Brown has been a model of statistical consistency, scoring exactly 18 points and grabbing exactly nine rebounds in each of his last three games.

While the Cardinal have struggled against Arizona (now just one win in last eleven tries), Stanford has succeeded against the Sun Devils (eight wins in last ten meetings). The Card beat Arizona State twice last season, a 76-70 win at Maples and a 79-58 victory in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal round.

The Sun Devils dropped their first four conference games before knocking off Colorado last Saturday. They lost to Arizona by 24 and fell to Utah by 17 points. On December 20, they needed triple overtime to beat Lehigh at home.

Both forward Shaq McKissic and guard Gerry Blakes lead Arizona State with 10.6 points per game. Guard Tra Holder, forward Savon Goodman (6.2 rebounds per game), and center Eric Jacobsen (25 blocks) round out the rest of the Sun Devil starting lineup. Guard Bo Barnes (17 points vs. Cal) and forward Jon Gilling are head coach Herb Sendek’s first options off the bench.

The Sun Devils laughed the Bears off the own court on Thursday night, a 79-44 housing at Haas Pavilion. Arizona State ha a 34-13 halftime lead and held Cal scoreless for a 13-minute stretch. The 35-point margin of victory was their largest in conference play since a 41-point win over Washington in January 2003.

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