Stanford tries to keep rolling against ASU (Jan 17, 2018)
STANFORD, Calif. -- The best Pac-12 team in the nonconference season will meet the hottest team in conference play when No. 16 Arizona State visits Stanford on Wednesday.
Arizona State has lost three of its last five games after being the last undefeated team in Division I, while Stanford has won four straight after adding two valuable pieces in the past three weeks.
The Sun Devils (14-3, 2-3 Pac-12) have dropped from No. 3 to No. 11 and now No. 16 in the AP Top 25 since a loss at No. 14 Arizona on Dec. 30 started the slide.
Arizona State took losses at Colorado and to Oregon at home and has suffered a drastic dip to 41.3 field goal percentage in Pac-12 play.
The Cardinal (10-8, 4-1) have won four straight games with senior guard Dorian Pickens and freshman forward Kezie Okpala in the lineup.
Pickens missed 11 games because of a left foot injury, and Okpala gained his academic eligibility at the end of the semester. Included in the quick start was a buzzer-beating 50-foot shot by freshman guard Daejon Davis to stop USC.
"Stanford (is) playing as well as anyone in the league," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. "They've won dramatically, so they have something going right now. They are leading the conference and we are 2-3, so that has to be enough motivation.
"We're not like the Warriors or something. It (success) is fragile. You want to preserve it when you are going well, and when you face some adversity you have to find your gear again. Hopefully we'll get that done again."
Arizona State enters after a 77-75 victory in which it trailed Oregon State by 13 points with 11 minutes remaining before recovering.
Guard Shannon Evans had 22 points, but Tra Holder was held to four points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field. Holder, who entered the game as the Pac-12's leading scorer, is now third at 19.9.
Reserve center De'Quon Lake and forward Kimani Lawrence were on the floor during the Sun Devils' comeback, and Hurley hinted that they could play bigger roles moving forward.
"We need to try to play whoever is giving us the best chance to win that particular game," Hurley said. "I told the team, particularly De'Quon, the way he played the last seven or eight minutes, I couldn't take him out of the game. He had some impact in the paint."
Stanford swept the Washington trip last week, its first conference road sweep since February 2010. The Cardinal's only Pac-12 loss came when they failed to hold a 17-point lead at home against California on Dec. 30.
"It's a big deal for us to have the confidence now to know we can go on the road and win some games," Stanford coach Jerod Haase told reporters after a 73-64 victory at Washington on Saturday.
"We did a lot of things that are necessary. We still have room for improvement ... but more importantly we did a lot of positive things."
Davis, a native of Seattle, had his first double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds in his return home against the Huskies and is the reigning Pac-12 player of the week.
Forward Reid Travis is second in the Pac-12 with a 20.1 scoring average and Pickens has had 26- and 28-point games since returning from a left foot injury for the Cal game. He had six 3-pointers in one game and seven in another.
The Cardinal have overcome second-half deficits in their last four victories, three of double-digits. It had a 48-28 rebounding edge over Washington.
Arizona State players met before the Oregon State game last week to address the recent sluggish stretch, Shannon Evans II said,
"We took it for what it was," said Evans II, who is averaging 17.4 points a game. "Nobody really got butt-hurt or anything like that. It shows the character of our team. Guys are growing up and actually want to win."
The teams have one Top 25 common opponent. Arizona State beat Kansas 95-85 in Lawrence on Dec. 10. Stanford lost to Kansas 75-54 on a neutral court in Sacramento 11 days later, without Pickens.
"Getting Pickens back has been a game-changer for them in the league," Hurley said. "They are not the team they were in the nonconference."