(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
In an effort to get over the worst offensive performance of the Bobby Hurley era, the Arizona State Sun Devils will host the Stanford Cardinal in Tempe on Saturday evening.
Much like Arizona State (11-14 4-8 in Pac-12), the conference schedule has not been friendly to the Cardinal (12-12, 4-8 in Pac-12). Stanford has lost four of its last five and is 1-7 on the road. The only road win the Cardinal have came on Jan. 19, when Stanford beat Oregon State in Corvallis.
The Sun Devils will have an advantage on the perimeter, so long as they make a reasonable number of shots. Stanford is 11th in points per game and last in the conference in field goal and three-point percentage. With its much faster pace, ASU ranks third in points per game but ninth in efficiency, shooting only .003 percent better than the Cardinal.
Unlike the Sun Devils, who rely on their guard play, Stanford’s roster is best at the forward positions. Junior forward Reid Travis averages 17.2 points per game but is 0-1 from three this season. Overall, Stanford only has three players with 10 or more made threes this season.
ASU proved able to leverage its three-point power to outscore Stanford on Dec. 30, when the two met in ASU’s conference opener. ASU shot 13-24 from three and 33-43 from the foul line, earning the 98-93 win.
Senior forward Torian Graham carried the previous matchup, scoring 30 points off the bench. Graham ranks second in points per game in conference and is critical for ASU’s success. When he produces high numbers, they can win. When he shoots 1-14 as he did on Wednesday, ASU has little recourse.
The Cardinal also rank last in blocks, opening up chances for ASU’s guard to attack the rim. The Devils drew 26 fouls against Stanford earlier in the season. Forcing fouls on Stanford’s key players will open up options for the Sun Devils.
So long as the Devils don’t shoot under 30 percent from the floor as they did on Wednesday against Cal, there’s a clear path to victory. ASU packs a big scoring punch even on OK nights, let alone great ones.
The game tips off at 6 P.M. Arizona time on the Pac-12 Network.