Photo credit: gostanford.com
By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State Coach Bobby Hurley was wearing his black shirt on Wednesday because, he explained, “It’s my gangster shirt.
“Our guys played like gangsters tonight, and the guys delivered. It was a great win for us.”
Stanford, playing without leading scorer KZ Okpala, tried everything defensively, but couldn’t contain the Sun Devils in an 80-62 Pac-12 men’s basketball loss at Wells Fargo Arena.
Going into the game, Stanford, which defeated the Sun Devils 85-71 on Jan. 12 at Maples Pavilion, had won five of its last six games, six of its last eight.
The win keeps Arizona State (18-8, 9-5) in third place in the conference, while the Cardinal (14-12, 7-7) dropped to seventh place in the Pac-12 race.
“We’ve done a great job all season of not getting too high or getting too low,” Cardinal Coach Jerod Haase said. “It was certainly disappointing, considering how hard the guys played, and the passion they played with.
“We didn’t play well, especially shooting the basketball. We have to be more effective if we’re going to get some more wins.”
Okpala, who averages 17.4 points per game for the Cardinal, did not play due to what Haase called “an upper body injury,’ adding that there’s no timetable for Okpala’s return.
“I don’t think it affected our shooting, but I think it affected the game because he’s so talented,” Haase said. “The guys shooting the shots were the guys I wanted shooting. They’re very talented.”
Remy Martin and Rob Edwards led the Sun Devils with 16 points each. Martin added six assists and two steals; Edwards had four assists. Martin, Edwards and Luguentz Dort each grabbed five rebounds, as ASU held a 38-32 rebounding edge.
Josh Sharma was Stanford’s top scorer with 17 points — 10 of them in the first half. Oscar Da Silva was next with 15 points. Sharma and Ryan Cormac had seven and six rebounds, respectively.
Defensively, Arizona State held the Cardinal 38 percent shooting (21-of-55) — 2-of-20 from behind the 3-point arc. That lack of firepower hurt Stanford from late in the second half to throughout the second half, when the Cardinal couldn’t get any closer than seven points.
“It was a combination of everything,” Haase said. “We had some great opportunities around the rim, and some open 3’s that weren’t effective. Then, Arizona State has a very talented team that had enough makes to never let us get too close.”
After each team scored within the opening minute, both the Sun Devils and Cardinals went nearly 3 ½ minutes without scoring until Sharma hit a jumper in the paint.
Arizona State led most of the first half, but the Cardinal stayed close, pulling to within 35-32 on Marcus Sheffield’s 3-pointer at 1:43. But the Devils made a late 7-2 run, capped by Martin’s long 3-pointer, giving ASU a 42-34 halftime lead.
From there, the Sun Devils gradually extended their lead. Zylan Cheatham’s 3-pointer at 4:50 of the second half put ASU up 66-52, capping another 7-2 run. De’Quon Lake’s free throw with 40 seconds left gave Arizona State an 80-60 lead, with an announced crowd of 10,327 roaring its approval.
The Sun Devils shot 51 percent (27-of-53) from the field, including 9-of-22 3-pointers (41 percent), and handled the Cardinal’s various defensive switches from man-to-man to various zones.
“We worked on it,” Hurley said. “We knew they would play man and some 2-3 and a 1-3-1, so we were prepared for what they’ve been doing recently.”
“ASU plays hard. They do a nice job of pressuring the basketball,” Haase said. “They’re great on their ball-screen coverages and put us back on our heels a little bit.
“But in the first half, we had too many turnovers. Some of the shots could have gone in, but the reality is that (ASU) did a nice job.”
In the second half, Stanford free throw shooters were 8-of-17 against the vaunted Curtain of Distraction.
The Cardinal’s southwest road trip continues with a visit to Tucson Sunday to face Arizona. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.
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