The way junior guard Daejon Davis has applied himself to the defensive end of the basketball court has been a major factor in Stanford's leap to the top of the Pac-12 Conference standings heading into Wednesday's 7 p.m. contest at UCLA (Pac-12 Networks).
Davis leads by example and there aren't many who can match his intensity as he hounds the opposing team's most prolific offensive threat on the perimeter and dives after loose balls. Fellow guard Bryce Wills is in the same category.
Through the first three conference games, Davis and Wills have helped hold the opposing team's leading scorer under their season average. Cal's Matt Bradley (17.8) was limited to 13 points and it was even more dramatic against Washington and Washington State.
Huskies' Isaiah Stewart (18.2) netted four points on Thursday and WSU's CJ Elleby (18.6) was held to six points on Saturday.
"It's two things. I think our team defense and our schemes are very good. Guys understand them and bought into them," Cardinal coach Jerod Haase said. "It also shows the value of our individual defenders. Daejon and Bryce enjoy the idea of being locked down defenders. They take a lot of pride in it that and how it adds value to our team."
Stanford (14-2, 3-0) ranks first in the Pac-12 and seventh in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 58.3 points. UCLA (8-8, 1-2) averages 71.4 points a contest and leading scorer Chris Smith averages 12.4.
The Cardinal is looking for its first win in Pauley Pavilion since February of 2004. Stanford has lost 12 straight in Westwood and 20 of its last 27 overall, dating to 2005, Stanford's last season sweep of the Bruins.
"Now we find out what life is like on the road," Haase said. "We understand it's a new challenge, a bigger challenge."