The Stanford Cardinal come into tonight's game with a huge chip on their shoulder after defeating Arizona State 74-64 in front of a stunned crown in Tempe. Landry Fields had 20 points on 8-12 shooting and Anthony Goods had 15 for the Cardinal. Stanford led by 6 at the end of the first half and outscored the Sun Devils 42-38 in the 2nd half. Stanford won this game with defense, as they limited Arizona State, who shot a paltry 0-6 from the field, in the first 8:10 of the game. Arizona State's first field goal came with 11:50 left in the first half from James Harden.
Anthony Goods leads the Cardinal with 15.9 ppg. He is also shooting 40.4% from three point land, which should concern every Arizona fan out there. Stanford as a team averages 38.3% from beyond the arc this year as well. The last time these two met, Stanford put a beat down on the Cats, winning 76-60. The Cats committed 20 turnovers and the Cardinal made them pay.
Stanford is 17-11 on the year, with all 11 losses coming in conference play. They have won 2 in a row against USC and at Arizona State. They also lost @ Oregon this year by a score of 60-68. Wow. Let's take a look at the Cardinal(s) stats this year:
Another day another dollar, I mean loss. Arizona is on the heels of a 4 game skid, severely putting into jeopardy their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Arizona has flat out run out of gas against Washington State and California. Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger can only score so many points before we can't compete anymore. Last game, Russ Pennell started Jamelle Horne over Zane Johnson, and Horne responded with a stellar 13 points and 9 boards. I hope he is starting again today.
Arizona is not even close to the team it was when they fell to Stanford the first time. We are on a bit of a downward slope here, but our potential is unreal. We have to find our fourth player who can contribute enough to allow our other three to play to their potential. So far, we haven't found him yet. Zane Johnson, I thought here, was supposed to be our deep threat. The guy who sat outside the key and was ready to fire at will. Unfortunately, he has not been the sharp shooter we had hoped for and defenses have minimalized his effectiveness over the last 10 games. Kyle Fogg showed signs of potential, averaging in double digits for a couple of games, only to retreat back into his shell as of late.
Russ Pennell was forced to bring Jamelle Horne off of the bench and start in place of Zane last game and it paid off big time. He contributed across the board and ended up in double digits. If it weren't for the wonderful shooting of Jerome freakin' Randle, the Cats would have probably pulled out the Win. So, what does that mean? Time to adjust and start defending the three pointer, while allowing Jordan to hold his own down low. Here are some stats from the game notes, which are attached below:
DEFEND THE ARC: During Arizona's current four-game losing streak, the Wildcats have been derelict in its ability to guard the perimeter. Over the last four games, UA opponents have connected on 44-of-97 (.454) of its three-point field goal attempts and foes are averaging made treys per game in that span. Additionally, those treys account for 42 percent of the opponents made field goals (44 of 105). By comparison, UA has hit 27-of-72 (.375) shots from behind the arc in those same four games.
Are you kidding me? We have a Wooden Award Finalist on the post, and we are giving up 45.4% from beyond the arc? What is wrong with that picture? Jordan's defense is phenomenal (a word often used in the So Cal derelict). Why aren't we forcing guys to go down low and take him on? I guess one theory would be that we have no bench, so we must "protect" our asset in Hill, and force people to beat us outside. I hope this were not the case, as, case in point above, we are getting killed beyond the arc and it's time to ADJUST to teams killing us from three point land.
The Cats should have no problem with Stanford as Chase, Jordan, and Nic are still smoking hot and home court advantage with the Tournament on the line should be impenetrable. However, let's hope that Pennell can adjust on the fly, stop the three, and make someone actually beat us who can't sit outside and jack threes all day. Here is a look at the Cats stats up through today:
Keys to the Game:
Perimeter Defense. Our perimter defense stinks. There. I said it. It's true. Time to either play man-man or extend our zone out further. Stanford is known to like the long ball and they can knock you out fast. Pennell, get'em out there and cover those guys. It's starting to get ridiculous. Please no more of this, this, or this.
Riding the Pine. Please set Zane to start the game. Pretty please. Jamelle Horne is the guy. I wish we knew this earlier in the year. Zane is inconsistent, has weak penetration, and misses easy layups (Sorry Ford, it's true). Jamelle Horne, fouls aside, is a much better player and we need his spark from the beginning, not in the middle of the first half.
IT Factor. Tournament bound? I hope so. Stanford defintely is not, so they have nothing to lose and the Cats have everything to gain. I expect a hard physical matchup, with both teams giving everything they've got. As I said in the California Recap, does it feel like our tournament chances come down to this one game? Sure does to me.
To end this post, I thought I would share a sad, sad stat with everyone. Sorry, but I thought you should know:
The Wildcats enter today's game having lost its last four games played. In case you were wondering, last time the Cats lost four straight in the same season came Jan. 5-14, 1984, in what was Lute Olson's first season in Tucson. The last time the program lost five or more also happened during that 1983-84 campaign.