The Stanford Cardinal came into Sunday night's matchup with a 10-1 record, but had been severely humbled by Arizona State their last time on the floor, losing by 30 to a program they had never lost to by such a wide margin in their series history. Tonight, Stanford found a way to respond to the terrible beating they received by defeating the Wildcats by a comfortable 76-60 margin at Maples Pavilion.
Early on, both teams looked a little sloppy, not scoring many points, but at the very least for Stanford fans, it was a much better beginning than on Friday night when Arizona State stormed out of the gate with three dunks on their first four baskets and never seemed to look back. It did look ominous for Stanford when Josh Owens picked up his second foul with 12:03 left in the first half and the Wildcats up by one, 10-9. Stanford, though, seemed to kick it up a notch, ran off six in a row and never lost the lead again for the rest of the game. It was still nip-and-tuck as Arizona would come within three on several occasions, but could never seem to get the shot they needed to get a bit closer or even tie the game. After getting within three on a Nic Wise jumper with just over four minutes remaining, the Cardinal went on a 9-3 run, with Lawrence Hill scoring eight of the nine on either layups, dunks, or free throws, helping Stanford open up a nine-point lead at the half. The lead was nearly 12, but freshman Jeremy Green's three-pointer rimmed out just before the final buzzer.
At the half, Stanford was shooting 47% from the field, 30% from beyond the arc, 55% within the three-point line, and just four of nine from the charity stripe. Arizona shot 50% from the field, but was 0-4 from the three-point line, making them 60% from inside the arc. The Wildcats were similarly dismal from the free-throw line, netting just two of five attempts. The Cardinal managed to score 14 points off 11 Arizona turnovers, while the team from Tucson had just four off five Stanford miscues. Throw in a 9-2 edge in second chance points which Stanford accumulated with the help of eight offensive rebounds and the Cardinal had to be thinking happy thoughts at the break.
Individually, Landry Fields was the man for Stanford in the first half, scoring nine points on 4-5 shooting, to go along with his seven rebounds (four of them offensive, two of which were rim-rattling dunks as he caught a rebound in mid-air and sent the ball through the hoop), three steals, and two assists for the Cardinal. Hill actually led Stanford with 12 points on 5-8 shooting and did a good job inside getting those points the hard way. Arizona was led at the half by Jordan Hill, another inside presence with experience that Stanford just doesn't have, with 13 points on 6-9 shooting and seven boards. Kyle Fogg, one of five freshmen on the squad, was the next leading scorer with five points.
Stanford knew they needed to continue the rhythm they established in the first half and started off hot from a place they haven't been since the Texas Tech game: the three-point line! Anthony Goods and Fields both made threes on the Cardinal's first two possessions, giving Stanford its biggest lead at that point (13) and sending the mostly full Maples Pavilion into a frenzy. In fact, Goods hits another three-pointer to give Stanford a 46-32 advantage and causing Arizona head coach to call a 30-second timeout just over three minutes into the second half, despite Owens having three fouls and Arizona not going inside as much as they could have against Stanford.
The Wildcats would get within 10 in pretty short order, but another Fields three and a Paul two-pointer sent Stanford back up 15 with 13:47 to go. Arizona would get no closer than 11 the rest of the way as the teams mostly traded baskets until the of the contest. Stanford would put one more run together, outscoring Arizona 9-0 over a 2:01 stretch, giving the Cardinal its biggest lead of the game at 66-46. From there, it was more of a matter to see if Stanford could hold onto the margin which would have been the largest win over Arizona since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10. Alas, Arizona made enough shots to close the gap to a final margin of 16, making it the biggest win Stanford has had over Arizona since an 86-69 win at Maples during the 1982-83 season.
For the contest, the Cardinal finished the game shooting 45% from the field, 36% (8-22) from beyond the arc, an even 50% from inside the three-point line, and a solid 70% from the free throw line. Arizona finished the night shooting 48% from the field, 0-8 from the three-point line, 57% from inside the arc, and 63% from the charity stripe. So, how did Stanford win this game? Well, they only outrebounded Arizona by one, but turned their 14 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points, while the Wildcats converted their 10 rebounds on the offensive glass into just eight points. Arizona also scored just 11 points off 14 Stanford turnovers, while Stanford took 20 Wildcat turnovers and turned those into 20 points. The biggest disparity of the game came in the form of assists. While Stanford had 17 assists on their 27 baskets, while Arizona had just five assists on their 25 baskets. With teamwork like that, Stanford looked like the better squad when all was said and done.
Individually, Fields led the way for Stanford with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Hill had a solid 14 points and Goods, despite shooting just 3-13 from the field, had 13 points, including four from the free throw line as he did make an effort to look for more points inside the paint at various times in the matchup. Mitch Johnson had seven, including two key three-pointers, Owens had six in only 18 minutes due to foul trouble, and the leading scorers off the bench were the trio of Jarrett Mann, Jeremy Green (although, he was just 1-8 from the field), and Paul who had four each. For Arizona, Hill a monster night with 17 points, 16 rebounds (six offensive), four steals, and two blocks. Surprisingly, though, he only had four shots in the second half and only tried three free throws, which seems to go against the main way to attack Stanford. Wise also had 17 points for the Wildcats, while Chase Budinger only had 12 on 4-11 shooting, with one of his four field goals being a windmill dunk over Mitch in the second half that brought the ooohs and aaahs from the crowd. The Wildcats bench contributed just five points in 47 minutes. By contrast, Stanford's reserves had 17 points in 61 minutes of play.
So, after two games in conference play, we still really don't know what kind of team this year's edition of Stanford Cardinal is really like. Is it the team who won today by double digits, leading by that margin all of the second half, or was it the squad we saw get run over and around by Arizona State to the tune of a 30-point drubbing. As coach Johnny Dawkins said earlier this week, they probably are somewhere in the middle of it all, which should mean lots of exciting and close games for fans to enjoy both at home and away from the Farm. Whatever team this does become, though, Stanford fans should be happy with the way this team responded after a big loss at home versus a superior opponent. If they can continue to see good efforts after losses (of course, we hope those are few and far between), there is hope that springs eternal for fans of Stanford men's basketball.
Stanford takes to the road, making stops in Seattle and Pullman,
respectively, to take on Washington and Washington State in their first league
road games of the year. Stay tuned to the Bootleg for previews of those
games coming up early this week!
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