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Stanford men’s basketball travels to No. 8 Arizona looking for upset
(John Todd/ isiphotos.com)

Stanford men’s basketball travels to No. 8 Arizona looking for upset

After breaking a four-game conference losing streak in a home win against Utah, Stanford (12-11, 4-7 Pac-12) looks to continue momentum while beginning its penultimate road trip on the season against nationally contending conference opponent No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (21-3, 10-1 Pac-12).

Wednesday night’s match-up will be the second time the Cardinal meet Arizona in the 2016-17 season. The previously No. 18 Wildcats absolutely demolished the unprepared Stanford squad at Maples by a margin of 91-52 to ring in the new year on Jan. 1. On the night, the Cardinal couldn’t even muster a double-digits scorer as junior forward Reid Travis led the way with only eight points on 5-12 shooting.

In order to upset Arizona, Stanford will need to find a way to stop Arizona freshman Finnish stretch forward Lauri Markkanen, who leads the Wildcat offense with 16 points per game. In the last Stanford-Zona matchup, Markkanen scored 15 points in a casual 22 minutes, including a ridiculous 3 for 3 from the perimeter.

Overall, the Stanford defense needs to improve in order to have a glimmer of hope at victory on Wednesday night. After allowing the Wildcats 91 points, including a ridiculous 71 percent from downtown, the Cardinal should attempt to slow the game down. Defensively, the key will be to pay more attention to outside shooting and defensive rebounding, where Stanford lost the battle on the glass by a 14-rebound margin. Stanford is entering Wednesday’s match-up having generated 40 turnovers in the last two back-to-back games.

The Cardinal will continue to look towards junior forwards Reid Travis and Micheal Humphrey to lead the offense; the duo combines to account for nearly 40 percent of the team’s scoring average. However, Stanford offense needs to move the ball more accurately against such a lockdown defense and athletic Wildcats squad. No error goes unpunished when it comes to the Wildcats. Last match, the Cardinal racked up 13 assists on 19 buckets yet turned the ball over 17 times, ultimately handing Arizona an extra 25 points.

However, all of these problems are recurring themes of head coach Jerod Haase’s his first season at the helm. Stanford ranks dead last in the Pac-12 in perimeter defense while also ranking second to last field goal percentage in the Pac-12, besting only Cal Berkeley.

After starting the season 6-1, Haase’s team has run into major roadblocks during its conference season and is 0-5 against ranked teams this season. In addition to their win-less record against ranked teams, the Cardinal have only won on opponents’ home courts once this season. Stanford will be haunted by its abysmal road record in Arizona’s hostile environment. Arizona leads the all-time series 62-29, and Arizona fans will expect continuous heat from their No.9- ranked squad.

Nevertheless, Stanford will need to up its level of play regardless of venue or place. The Cardinal failed to make the postseason last year, and if the new Cardinal squad cannot find a way to generate shooting and galvanize this squad, misfortunes appear likely to repeat come the end of the season.

Tip-off against the Wildcats will be on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports.

 

Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu