Cardinal taking its basketball to another level in Pac-12 tourney

Dwight Powell had a lot of time to think about what he could to do to help the Stanford men's basketball team in the second half of its quarterfinal match with Arizona State.

Powell put those thoughts into action, scoring all of his 15 points following the intermission as the sixth-seeded Cardinal ran away from the third-seeded Sun Devils, 79-58, in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

"The first half was bad decisions on a couple reaches," Powell said. "That hurt me a lot. I was just trying to be aggressive when I'm in the game, and guys gave me great opportunities that I'm able to take advantage of."

Chasson Randle scored 21 points, Josh Huestis added 12 and the Cardinal shot 54 percent from the field. Anthony Brown scored 11.

Stanford (21-11) takes on No. 2 seed UCLA in Friday's semifinal action at 8:30 p.m. The Cardinal now has won two games at the conference tournament for the first time since 2008, fittingly the last time Stanford reached the NCAA tournament.

Top-seeded Arizona and No. 5 Colorado meet in the other semifinal and it's safe to say the four remaining teams have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt they belong in the Big Dance this year.

Arizona State (21-11) likely will get a bid too, with Utah and California resting uncomfortably on the preverbal bubble.

Stanford scored the first nine points of the game, a complete turnaround from its last meeting with the Sun Devils.

"When I realized we came out aggressive, it just seemed to me that we were playing like we're capable of," Huestis said. "To me, I don't see it as tonight being our night. It was more us playing to the level we're capable of playing."

The Cardinal led by as many as 10 points before settling for a 30-27 advantage at halftime. That was despite early foul trouble for Powell, who sat out 13 minutes of the first 20 with a pair of fouls, and Stephen Nastic, called for three fouls in the first half.

"We really we were good defensively," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We knew it was important to come out with a strong start."

The Sun Devils took the early lead in Tempe in late February and never gave Stanford a chance. This time it was the Cardinal's turn to return the favor, holding ASU star guard Jahii Carson scoreless in the first half and to 10 points overall. He scored 34 against Stanford in ASU's overtime victory at the Pac-12 tournament last year.

"It's hard to stop a great player. You want to contain them," Dawkins said. "I thought our guys did a great job focusing on what we needed to do to slow him down. And I give a lot of credit to Anthony Brown, who was his primary defender."

Stanford turned in one of its finest performances of the season despite having played late Wednesday night.

"We put everything together on both ends of the floor," Dawkins said. "They made runs at us, but our guys showed a lot of poise, a lot of maturity. They withstood the runs and were able to to build momentum."

The Cardinal started the second half by hitting six of its first eight shots and held Arizona State without a field goal for over four minutes.

John Gage hit a 3-pointer to put Stanford ahead, 45-34. The Cardinal never let it get too close again.

Arizona State pulled within six points at one point, but Stanford was just too hot in the second half, hitting 17 of 24 shots in the half to stretch the lead.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Stanford plays Colorado tonight at 8:40PM--telecast on the Fox Sports channel!

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