The Stanford Cardinal came into the 2010 edition of the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament on a three-game losing streak, all of which came at home versus the top-tier group of Arizona, Arizona State, and league leader California. To get any shot at postseason play, Stanford would have to win three in a row on the neutral court of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a feat they last accomplished in 2004 when the team came into the competition with a 26-1 record. On Thursday night, Stanford started off this year's tournament as the seventh seed, taking on the second-seeded Arizona State, a team the Cardinal had little success against in the regular season. However, this time around, Stanford played loose and held the lead nearly wire-to-wire, shocking the Sun Devils with hot shooting and good defense to pull off the upset by a final score of 70-61. Stanford moves to 14-17 on the season, while Arizona State falls to 22-10 and awaits their fate on Selection Sunday.
Stanford began the game white hot as they took the opening tip and found Jack Trotter open for a two-handed dunk just seconds into the game. Jarrett Mann and Landry Fields followed with shots of their own, giving the Cardinal an early 6-2 advantage. ASU would cut it to 11-9 after two Rihards Kuksiks free throws just under seven minutes into the game, but the Cardinal went on a 7-0 run over a 1:58 stretch, highlighted by three-pointers from Emmanuel Igbinosa and Drew Shiller. The Cardinal would stretch that lead to as much as 10, 22-12, capitalizing on an unusually sloppy Arizona State team in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Solar Satans, though, would use efficient offensive rebounding and stifling defense to get right back into the contest, including trifectas from senior Derek Glasser and Kuksiks to bring ASU within four, 24-20, right before the last media timeout. Arizona State would continue the assault and Stanford stayed cold as Kuksiks tied the game on a three-on-one break with 1:49 left in the half. Jeremy Green, though, finally stopped the 5:19 drought with a three-pointer that rattled home from the right wing. A Trotter layup with the shot clock winding down gave the Cardinal a four-point lead, but a long three-pointer by Glasser with under five ticks remaining brought ASU to within one, 29-28, at the halftime break.
Stanford shot 50% from the field, 43% at the three-point arc, but made just two of their five free throws. Arizona State made good on 40% of their field goals, 39% (5-13) beyond the three-point line, and three of their five attempts at the charity stripe. ASU outrebounded Stanford 16-12, including 5-2 on the offensive glass. Both teams had subpar assist-to-turnover ratios as the Cardinal tallied two assists and seven giveaways, while the Sun Devils had three assists and 10 miscues.
Fields and Green led Stanford with seven points apiece with the senior also getting three steal and three rebounds. Igbinosa was next in line with five points off the bench. Arizona State was led by Kuksiks' 15 points on 5-6 shooting. Kuksiks was followed on the ledger by Glasser's seven points and team-high six rebounds.
The second half started with Arizona State scoring inside on a reverse layup by Jamelle McMillian to give the Sun Devils their first lead of the ball game, a lead that would switch hands on Stanford's first possession as Green nailed a tough jumper. Green made another long three-pointer from the right side with the clock winding down, then Andrew Zimmerman completed a fast break off a nice pass from Green to put the Cardinal up six, 38-32, right before the first media break. Fields missed an opportunity to give the Card a bigger lead after missing two free throws after the timeout on the floor, but Stanford continued to score, getting four points from Green before Jerren Shipp made good on a wide open three-pointer to bring ASU within seven points, 42-35, with 13:19 to go.
Fields, though, wasn't about to let the Sun Devils get on a roll, going on a personal 8-0 run, topped off with a left-wing three pointer, prompting Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek to call a timeout with the Cardinal up by their biggest margin of the night, 50-35, at the 11:47 mark of the game. The Sun Devils came out of the break determined to get Ty Abbott started, running an isolation play for him that led to a layup, then the junior hustled to grab a loose ball, getting the ball right back for an open three-pointer which was nothing but net. Green missed a tough shot inside, but the loose ball finally ended up in Igbinosa's hands who got off a shot attempt while being fouled, getting the senior to the line after the media timeout.
After Igbinosa made one of the two freebies, he stayed hot, getting a tough jumper in the lane after rebounding a Da'Veed Dildy miss and blocked a Kuksiks three-point attempt with the shot clock winding down to keep the lead for Stanford at 10 with 7:35 to go and the two teams heading to the bench for the second-to-last TV timeout of the contest.
The Cardinal committed consecutive turnovers on their next two possessions, but ASU could get just an Eric Boateng free throw over that stretch despite several good looks for the higher ranked team. Zimmerman, fouled while getting a loose ball off a Sun Devil miss, made two free throws, then Shiller got open after calling timeout on an inbounds play to nail a right-side three-pointer with 5:13 left to go in the contest, putting the Cardinal up 14, 58-44. Boateng would get three points on a layup and a free throw, but those were squeezed around a couple of charity stripe makes by Igbinosa.
Arizona State turned up the defensive pressure, along with fouling on occasion, in an attempt to get back into the game. Shiller drained two free throws and Igbinosa ran out of the pressure to make a teardrop over the scrambling Sun Devils defense to give the Cardinal their biggest lead of the game, 64-47, with 2:45 left in the contest. Glasser converted a three-point play to stop the bleeding, then got a jumper to fall after two missed free throws by Fields to edge the lead down to an even dozen with 2:17 to go. Shiller split a pair of free throws, then after a miss by ASU, the senior from Burlingame stepped out of bounds, giving the Sun Devils a glimmer of hope, especially after Glasser made another drive and layup to bring the Solar Satans ever so slightly closer at 65-54 with under 90 seconds to play.
Trotter split another pair of free throws for Stanford before Shipp made two of his own after driving on Trotter and fouling out the big man from Moraga. ASU nearly had a turnover on the inbounds, but the referees called a foul on Abbott instead. Fields made the first, but missed the second, to put Stanford back up 11. The Sun Devils used almost 25 seconds of clock to get their next hoop, helping the Cardinal's efforts to put away the visitors from Tempe. Igbinosa would make two free throws, but Abbott got a three-point play to fall, bringing ASU to within eight. Fields got the second of his two free throws to fall, then defended well enough for Abbott to miss a long three-pointer. Green rebounded the miss and ASU backed off their pressure, allowing the Cardinal to soak in the stunning victory.
For the contest, Stanford made 55% of their field goals, 46% (6-13) from the three-point stripe, and 56% (18-32) at the free throw line, while Arizona State connected on just 39% of their field goals, including 29% (7-24) from beyond the arc. The Sun Devils were 12-18, good enough for 67%, at the free throw line. Arizona State won the rebounding battle 31-27, including 11-5 on the offensive glass. The Cardinal finished the game with four assists and 13 turnovers, while Arizona State had seven assists and 17 turnovers.
Stanford was led by Green's 18 points and six rebounds on 6-12 shooting, followed by Fields' 17 points and five boards, although the senior was just 4-11 at the free throw line. Igbinosa was the other player in double figures for the Cardinal, scoring 12 off the bench, but playing a ton of quality minutes for Stanford. Arizona State was led by Kuksiks' 15 points, although they all came in the first half of play, as he finished 5-11 from the floor. Glasser was next up 14 points, followed by 13 from Boateng (to go with his 14 rebounds) and 10 from Abbott.
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