Anthony Brown scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half but the Stanford men's basketball team missed an opportunity to improve its lot in the Pac-12 Conference on Wednesday night, losing to host Arizona State, 76-64.
The Cardinal never could take advantage of Arizona State cold spells or turnovers and its own shooting woes did not help.
"It was definitely a bad start for us," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "I wish we could have played better. We turned the ball over too much. In a game like that, you have you hit your free throws and take care of the ball and we didn't do either of those things."
Stanford had won five of its previous six games and will now have the not so enviable distinction of traveling to Tucson to take on No. 3 Arizona in a 5 p.m. contest Sunday.
"This is a tough conference and every night is going to be tough," Dawkins said. "We have to go at it and compete."
Instead of inching closer to second place in the conference and holding unto third by itself, the Cardinal is forced into sharing third place with California, Colorado and the Sun Devils with a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament in serious jeopardy.
If the tournament were to be played tomorrow, Stanford would be the sixth seed.
"We have lost the first game of every road trip," Brown said. "We have to go back to the drawing board. It's as simple as that."
Arizona State led by as many as 18 points midway through the second half and held on as the Cardinal managed to reduce the deficit without making much progress.
Stanford was lucky to be down 10 at halftime. The Sun Devils, who lead the conference in 3-point field goals, shot over 53 percent for the half and held a 15-point advantage at one point.
After missing 11 of its first 15 shots, the Cardinal hit six of nine, including Randle's 3-pointer in the final four seconds that cut the lead to 39-29.
Sometimes Keystone Kops and sometimes just plain unlucky, the Cardinal found creative ways to give the basketball to the Sun Devils: passing it to no one in particular, dribbling it out of bounds under no pressure and sending one pass into the back court and beyond.
Turning the ball over on its first three possessions, Stanford put itself in a bad position right away. Arizona State turned those gifts into eight points. The Cardinal never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
"We turned the ball over 10 times in the first half," Brown said. "That's not the recipe for success. Our defense was not there and it carried over on offense."
The Cardinal recorded its first assist of the contest on an alley opp pass from Josh Huestis to Randle with 2:17 remaining in the first half. The Sun Devils had 11 assists to Stanford's one at the half.
The Cardinal made it too easy for Arizona State to get the ball inside while having trouble getting inside on the other side of the court.
Players began trying to create their own shots without much success and that allowed the Sun Devils to pull away to some extent.
Stanford committed 10 turnovers to ASU's seven, with the Sun Devils making the most of the edge, scoring 17 points to the Cardinal's five off turnovers.
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