An ugly trend is beginning to form with ASU as they finished another regular season on a skid and will have to overcome the recent pitfalls under the scrutiny of the Pac-12 Tournament. Getting swept by the Oregon schools was a disappointing finish to the season and even more concerning is the fact that ASU hasn't won a game away from home since January 29 when they beat Cal in Berkeley.
This is the fourth time in five years that ASU and Stanford have met in the Pac-12 Tournament with Stanford having won two of three while winning seven of their last 11 total games against ASU. Stanford presents a tough matchup as they possess two of the more athletic big men in the Pac-12 with Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis to go along with a great backcourt duo of Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown.
Johnny Dawkins: 6th season at Stanford – 120-80 career
Herb Sendek: 8th season at ASU – 140-117; 395-274 career
G – Chasson Randle (18.9 PPG, 40% 3PT) vs. Jahii Carson (18.9 PPG, 4.5 APG)
G – Anthony Brown (13.1 PPG, 45% 3PT) vs. Jermaine Marshall (15.4 PPG, 41% 3PT)
F – Josh Huestis (11.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG) vs. Shaq McKissic (8.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
F – Dwight Powell (14.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG) vs. Eric Jacobsen (2.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
Why Stanford Can Win:
The reason Stanford has had success over ASU over the years is the same reason that a lot of teams that have beaten ASU consistently have had success: physical play. All things considered, ASU is a soft team with a guard-heavy rotation that gives up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points. In the last two seasons, Huestis and Powell have combined to average 33 points and 18 rebounds against the Devils while Jordan Bachynski in the last two seasons against Stanford has averaged just 4.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in the same four games.
Why ASU Can Win:
Just three weeks ago, Stanford fell in Tempe to a struggling ASU team when Jahii Carson woke up from a mini-slump to put up 26 points in a dazzling display that left the Cardinal reeling. A big reason ASU won was not just Carson's scoring ways but also his ability to completely neutralize Chasson Randle. A great scorer, Randle still scored 17 points but he fouled out and spent a lot of the second half playing tentatively on defense which allowed the ASU offense to flow perfectly. When Carson is at his best, opposing point guards are spending the majority of their night chasing him around and losing some effectiveness when they have the ball in their hands as a result. As mentioned earlier, Bachynski has struggled against Stanford's front line but having his teammates hitting shots can help eradicate that problem. Jermaine Marshall has been a man on a mission in big games and this is his moment to prove that transferring across the country for a single season was worth it for a shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Key Stats: In the last few days, much has been made of Jahii Carson's affinity for the Las Vegas Strip, which is an affinity he shares with every red-blooded ASU student, but the other side of that stone is that ASU hasn't been able to truly capitalize on his success. While averaging 28.8ppg in five career games in Vegas, the Devils are just 3-2 in those five games with all three wins coming over opponents that ASU should have beaten while the two losses have come to UCLA and Creighton, two ranked teams that ASU could not topple. For ASU to find success in this tournament where parity is king and they will not be a heavy favorite in any of the matchups, his teammates need to lend a helping hand. In the two Vegas losses, everyone not named Carson has shot a combined 40% from the field, 28% from deep and just 66% from the free throw line.
X-Factor: Jon Gilling; the first five minutes of every game is always interesting to see if Good Jon Gilling is playing or if Bad Jon Gilling is playing and that will be a crucial development on Thursday night. In his last four games, Gilling has been a jack of all trades averaging 11ppg, 5rpg and 4apg while knocking down 57% of his threes. Good Jon Gilling is the kind of guy who can help ASU advance.
Final Score: ASU 75 Stanford 73