No. 7/7 Stanford Hits The Road Against Arizona State
Feb. 11, 2008
No. 7/7 Stanford Cardinal (20-3, 9-2 Pac-10)
- AT -
Arizona State Sun Devils (15-7, 5-5 Pac-10)
KZSU 90.1 FM (PxP: Ben Spielberg)
The Opening Tip
Winners of seven in a row for the second time this season, No. 7/7 Stanford (20-3, 9-2 Pac-10) continues to climb the national rankings after cracking the top-10 for the first time since 2003. The Cardinal has posted its first 20-win campaign since a 30-2 finish in 2003-04. But a tough road swing awaits this week, beginning with Arizona State (15-7, 5-5 Pac-10) in Tempe on Thursday night.
Thursday's game can be heard live on KNTS 1220 AM and Stanford's official athletics website, www.gostanford.com. Dave Flemming handles play-by-play duties while John Platz provides color commentary. KZSU 90.1 FM also provides coverage with Ben Spielberg (play-by-play). The contest can also be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net, with Barry Tompkins (play-by-play) and Dan Belluomini (analyst) describing the action.
Scouting Arizona State
Arizona State (15-7, 5-5 Pac-10) stopped a five-game losing streak with a 59-54 victory over rival Arizona in its only contest last weekend. Prior to the five-game losing skid, the Sun Devils had rattled off 10 straight wins to climb into the national rankings. Arizona State, 11-2 at home, has played in three overtime games this year and won each contest.The Sun Devils shoot 47.6-percent from the field, 35.8-percent from beyond the arc and an impressive 74.4-percent from the charity stripe. Players to watch include: James Harden (18.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 114-149 free throws, 40 steals), Jeff Pendergraph (13.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 61.3-percent field goals) and Ty Abbott (10.0 ppg, 49-141 three-pointers).
Stanford All-Time vs. Arizona State
Stanford holds a 37-26 edge over Arizona State in the all-time series, which originated back in 1957. The Cardinal has dominated this matchup, winning five straight and 18 of the last 20 contests overall. Despite trailing by 10 at halftime, Stanford rallied for a 67-52 win at home back on Jan. 19. Not to mention a sweep of last year's slate, as Stanford earned a 71-60 victory in Tempe before notching a 63-53 win at Maples Pavilion.
Who To Watch Against Arizona State
In five meetings against the Sun Devils, Lawrence Hill is averaging 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game thanks to a 48.7-percent clip from the field (20-41). Fred Washington is averaging 7.3 points per game and has made 14-21 from the field in six matchups while Taj Finger is averaging 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in seven tilts. Brook Lopez torched the Sun Devils earlier this year with a 19-point, 16-rebound effort.
With a road sweep this weekend, Stanford will have swept the season series against both Arizona schools for only the third time in school history. The Cardinal also won both meetings against Arizona and Arizona State during the 2003-04 and 1995-96 campaigns.
Having already surpassed its win total (18) from all of last year, Stanford recorded the 19th 20-win season in program history with a 71-56 victory over Oregon State on Feb. 9. The Cardinal last reached the 20-win plateau in 2003-04, finishing 30-2. There are seven games left in the regular season before the Pac-10 Tournament starts Mar. 12.
Back Among The Top-10
Stanford's current ranking of No. 7 in both national polls is the club's highest mark since the 2003-04 squad was ranked No. 1 late in the year. The Cardinal last vaulted into the top-10 back on Dec. 15, 2003, entering the Associated Press poll at No. 9 on that day after a 5-0 start that included a 64-58 upset of then-No. 1 Kansas. One week later, the Cardinal jumped to No. 6 in the AP poll and cracked the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll at No. 8.
More On The Top-10 Ranking
This year's team is the seventh in school history to achieve a top-10 national ranking in both polls (Associated Press, ESPN/USA Today Coaches) at any point during the year.
Milestones In The Making
One year after establishing the freshman single-season record for blocked shots (73), Robin Lopez is climbing the charts again. With a team-best 50 swats this year, he now ranks fourth all-time in the Cardinal record books with 123. Next up: Matt Haryasz (2002-06) with 130. Meanwhile, Mitch Johnson has dished out a team-best 109 assists this year to increase his career total to 310. That's now good enough for eighth on the all-time list.
The ability to shoot at least 40-percent from the field and hold opponents to under that same mark has been a key to victory for the Cardinal. Stanford is 15-0 this year when connecting at a 40-percent or better rate from the field while holding the opposition to a percentage under 40. Furthermore, only seven teams (California, Oregon, UCLA, Texas Tech, Yale, Siena, Northwestern) have shot better than 40-percent in a game this year.
Cardinal In The Pac-10, National Statistics
Stanford is the Pac-10 leader in rebounding (40.1 rpg), field-goal percentage defense (38.0), rebounding margin (+10.9) and blocked shots (113). Stanford is also holding foes to 56.9 points per game, good for second in the conference. Entering the week, the Cardinal was represented in the following national categories: rebounding margin (2nd), defense (5th), field-goal percentage defense (10th) and scoring margin (12th).
Share The Ball, Force Mistakes
Two of Stanford's trademarks this year have been the ability to share the basketball and force its opponents into making mistakes. The Cardinal has tallied more assists than its opponent 20 times this year, winning every game when that's the case. The tone was set in the season opener, when Stanford dished out 25 assists that led to 43 buckets in a 111-56 pounding of Harvard. It's been a different story for opponents, as Stanford has forced at least 10 turnovers on 17 different occasions this year.
Defense Clearly The Key To Success
Stanford's outstanding numbers on defense are well-documented but it's worth another look. In addition to allowing just 56.9 points per game and 38-percent shooting from the field, the Cardinal has held 16 opponents this year to 60 or points or less. Opposing squads are averaging almost 13 turnovers per game while dishing out less than 10 assists.
Stanford is currently riding a seven-game winning streak for the second time this year (the Cardinal also won seven in a row from Nov. 20-Dec. 29). There have been only five other seasons in school history (1936-37, 1941-42, 1988-89, 1999-2000, 2000-01) when Stanford won at least seven straight games on two different occasions.
Leaders On The Cardinal Side
There have been only five instances this year when the game's leading scorer has not come from the Stanford bench. Only Kyle Weaver (Washington State), O.J. Mayo (USC), Josh Shipp (UCLA), Marcus Hall (Colorado) and Josh Duell (Siena) can claim the distinction of having game-high scoring honors so far this year in games against Stanford. In the rebounding department, only three players (UC Santa Barbara's Chris Devine, Arizona's Jordan Hill, Washington State's Kyle Weaver) have grabbed more boards in a single game.
Stanford's work on the glass has been very impressive. The Cardinal is averaging 40.1 boards per game while limiting the opposition to just 29.2 per contest. Six different players are averaging at least 4.0 rebounds per game, led by an 7.9 clip from Brook Lopez. Stanford trails only North Carolina (11.5) in rebounding margin at +10.9 and has only been outrebounded by one opponent (Fresno State) so far. The biggest discrepancy came in the season opener against Harvard, when Stanford held a 50-19 edge.
Brook Lopez Carrying The Cardinal
Since Brook Lopez was cleared to return to NCAA competition on Dec. 17, he has been nothing short of unstoppable. He missed the first nine games after being ruled academically ineligible. In 14 games back, Lopez is averaging 18.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while shooting 47.5-percent (86-181) from the field. Lopez, who poured in a career-best 31 points against Washington on Jan. 31 to notch his third double-double of the year, has scored in double-figures in nine consecutive games and 13 overall.
Robin Lopez Productive In The Post
Robin Lopez has developed into a tremendous rebounder and intimidating defensive presence for the Cardinal. He has scored in double-figures in seven games, including a career-high 24-point performance against Yale on Nov. 20 that featured 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Lopez has also reached double-digit board totals four times and has been the Cardinal's leading rebounder on five different occasions. He is currently fourth in scoring (8.9 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (5.7 rpg). Lopez has also tallied a team-high 50 swats to increase his career total to 123.
Floor Leader Helping In Other Areas
Mitch Johnson is best known for providing his teammates with scoring chances, as evidenced by a team-best 4.7 assists per game clip. Johnson has scored in double-figures four times, including a career-high 16-point outing in a win at California on Jan. 26. He is averaging 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and leads the club with 109 assists.
Stanford is receiving balanced scoring from its entire roster. Starters, reserves, it doesn't matter- everyone is getting into the act. Seven of the 12 players are averaging at least 5.0 points per game. Stanford has placed at least three different players in double-figure scoring on 11 different occasions this year.
Score At The Half
How will the Cardinal fare against an opponent? Enjoy the first 20 minutes then glance at the scoreboard. Stanford is 17-0 when leading at the half and 3-3 when trailing.
Making The Wins Count
Prior to a 62-61 victory over Texas Tech on Dec. 22, Stanford's last 13 victories dating back to the 2006-07 campaign had been decided by double-digit margins. Of Stanford's 20 wins so far, 14 have been of the double-digit variety. In fact, eight Cardinal victories this year have been decided by at least 20 points.