ASU Basketball: Sun Devils head back on the road to face Stanford

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Kodi Justice
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 13: Kodi Justice /

After splitting their Pac-12 home stand against Oregon and Oregon State, ASU basketball heads to Bay Area to take on the Stanford Cardinal.

Coming off a much needed victory over Oregon State, coach Bobby Hurley has a chance to improve ASU basketball’s in-conference record to 3-3 with a win over the Stanford Cardinal.

Against the Beavers, ASU was bolstered to victory not only by the near immaculate second half play of Shannon Evans II (22 points) but also by the phenomenal bench production from both De’Quon Lake and Remy Martin.

Both in the midst of their first season at ASU, Martin and Lake have become somewhat household names among Sun Devil fans. The electric duo provides energy off of the bench that helps keep intensity high for the 16th-ranked Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils and the Cardinal have been polar opposites throughout the 2017-18 collegiate season.

In non-conference play the Sun Devils reached heights as high as the No. 3 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll, grabbing the nation’s attention en route to a 12-0 record. Since their stellar start, ASU has regressed and have only been able to muster an underwhelming record of 2-3.

For Stanford, the season started about as mediocre as it could. In non-conference play the Cardinal managed a record of 6-7, with no stand out wins to fall back on.

Many preseason Pac-12 predictors had the Stanford Cardinal finishing fifth in conference, just one spot above Arizona State. In non-conference play, this prediction couldn’t have looked worse.

Since conference play started we’ve seen a different basketball team. The Cardinal is 4-1 in Pac-12 play and has one of the most astounding finishes in all of sports. Against USC on Jan. 7, Daejon Davis hit an epic half court buzzer beater to beat USC 77-76 in dramatic fashion.

The key components of Stanford’s 4-1 start haven’t been an explosive offense, or a dominant defense. Instead Stanford does everything well. Scoring as many points (75.4) as they give up (75.0) per game has led to no weak spots and a tough outing for anyone they play.

The team is led by junior Reid Travis, who is scoring 20.1 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field. Rounding out one of college basketball’s most balanced attacks is Kezie Okpala (12 ppg), Dorian Pickens (12 ppg), Miachel Humphrey (11.6 ppg) and Daejon Davis (10.3 ppg).

Coming off their first two-game road sweep in conference play, the Cardinal’s confidence level is through the roof. Defeating the Cardinal in Palo Alto will be no easy task for the Sun Devils, but a necessary one if they plan to stay relevant in the ever-changing national spotlight.

Next: ASU Basketball: 2018 Pac-12 Week 3 Power Rankings

The key for the Sun Devils in this game will be shutting down Travis and forcing others to beat them. Expect a continued increase in minutes for Kimani Lawrence, who is starting to look healthy for the first time this season. Look for the Sun Devils to work on finding that explosive and graceful rhythm that carried them to a 12-0 start.