M. Basketball: Sun Devils Scorched

Feb. 7, 2011, 3:03 a.m.

In one of its best offensive performances of the year, the Stanford men’s basketball team beat Arizona State, 83-75, on Saturday afternoon to salvage a split of its four-game homestand. The Cardinal (12-10, 5-6 Pac-10) won despite giving up 51-percent shooting to the last-place Sun Devils (9-14, 1-10).

This uncharacteristically poor defense was offset by uncharacteristic success from two areas where Stanford usually struggles–the three-point line and the free-throw line. The Cardinal ranks 204th nationally (out of 346 teams) in three-point shooting and 272nd nationally in free-throw shooting, with marks of 33.5 percent and 65.3 percent, respectively. On Saturday, Stanford made 10 of its 18 three-point attempts and was 25-for-34 from the free-throw line. Both totals nearly doubled the Cardinal’s season averages.

Despite much of the press regarding Stanford men’s basketball revolving around its stellar freshman class, the Cardinal was led on Saturday by its trio of junior starters–guards Jeremy Green and Jarrett Mann and forward Josh Owens. The three combined for 53 of Stanford’s 83 points, 15 of its 26 rebounds and 12 of its 18 assists while going 24-for-33 from the free-throw line.

Junior guard Jeremy Green, above, led the Card to a win over Arizona State with a season-high 23 points. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

Green led the way with a season-high 23 points on highly efficient 6-for-8 shooting from the floor, including 5-for-5 on three-pointers. Mann set a career high with 14 points, highlighted by his 8-for-12 performance from the free-throw line. In addition, Mann dished out seven assists and grabbed four steals–both game highs–while giving up only one turnover.

“That’s the best game Jarrett and Jeremy ever had in a Cardinal uniform,” said head coach Johnny Dawkins. “It was more than scoring, it was about how they stepped up and made plays that were needed to close out the game.”

Owens picked up two quick fouls to start the game and sat for most of the first half without scoring. He responded with a vengeance in the second half, scoring 16 points and making 10 of his 12 free throws, and he finished with a game-high eight rebounds.

The result was very much in doubt through the first 20 minutes as the two teams traded punches. Neither team built a lead of more than five points, and the lead changed hands 13 times. With Owens sitting in foul trouble, the Sun Devils dominated inside, outscoring Stanford, 16-8, in the paint. However, thanks to strong performances by Green and Mann, as well as boosts off the bench from freshmen John Gage and Aaron Bright, the Cardinal led, 36-32, at the break. Those four players combined for 34 of Stanford’s 36 points in the half.

In the second frame, Stanford scored nine of the first 12 points to open up a 10-point lead at 45-35, and the Cardinal never looked back. During the remaining 16:42, Arizona State never got within three points of Stanford, but the Cardinal could not open up its lead to more than 10. Instead, the margin floated around seven for the entire half, as neither team went on a significant run. This contrasts starkly Stanford’s game Thursday night against Arizona, which had five consecutive runs of at least six points.

As the Sun Devils tried to claw their way back into the game late, Stanford found itself at the free-throw line yet again. This time, though, the Cardinal converted, sinking 11 of its last 15 free throws to secure the win. Green did the final damage, hitting six free throws in the final 1:21 to ice the game.

“We got the wrong guy to the line in Jeremy Green,” said Arizona State coach Herb Sendek. “A couple times we didn’t use the best discretion; not that we were in a position to be choosy a few of the times. When Jeremy Green’s at the line, Stanford is going to make a lot of free throws.”

For the game, senior point guard Jamelle McMillan led Arizona State, scoring a career-high 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting and matching Mann with four steals. Sophomore guard Trent Lockett hit his average with 14 points and led the Sun Devils with five assists. Senior guard Ty Abbott, who is second on the team in scoring at over 13 points per game, was a nonfactor, taking only three shots and scoring just three points before sitting out the second half with an injured back.

Up next for the Cardinal is a road trip to the Washington schools. Stanford plays in Pullman against Washington State on Thursday night before traveling across the state to take on Washington on Saturday.

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