GAME NOTES: Closing out the first day of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament will be a matchup between the 11th-seeded Washington State Cougars and the sixth- seeded Stanford Cardinal, as the two meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The Cougars ended an eight-game losing streak with a resounding 73-55 victory over UCLA in the regular-season finale to claim the 11th seed over USC. Wins were hard to come by for most of the year for WSU, as it finished at 10-20 overall, with the victory over UCLA being just its third in 18 tries against conference foes. The Cougars have lost their first matchup in this tournament in each of the last four years.
Stanford's chances at a higher seed and a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament took a huge hit when the team lost three straight games coming into the regular-season finale. The Cardinal barely survived in that final test, topping Utah, 61-60. They are now 19-11 overall and 10-8 in league play as they hope to make up for an 89-88 loss in overtime to Arizona State in the first round of this tournament a year ago.
Both meetings between these teams in the regular season went to Stanford, which collected an 80-48 triumph at home on Jan. 15 and a 69-56 road victory on Feb. 15. The Cardinal have won three straight overall against the Cougars and lead the all-time series 72-59.
The winner of this bout advances to face third-seed Arizona State in the next round.
Despite shooting only 36.8 percent from the floor themselves, the Cougars were still able to defeat UCLA, and do so convincingly. Washington State limited the Bruins to just 33.3 percent shooting, while holding a sizable scoring advantage from beyond the arc (30-15).
There is really no mystery as to why Washington State has failed to be a competitive team this year. The Cougars are dead last in the Pac-12 in just about every offensive category, including scoring (62.4 ppg), field goal percentage (.401) and assists (10.5 apg). They are also the worst rebounding team in the conference (33.1 rpg). DaVonte Lacy (19.1 ppg) is the only reliable scorer on the roster, although Que Johnson (9.9 ppg) and D.J. Shelton (9.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg) do their part, but not well enough, with each shooting below 40 percent from the field.
Dwight Powell hit one of two free throws with 36 seconds left and the Cardinal forced a turnover at the other end to escape with a victory over Utah. Chasson Randle finished with game-high 22 points in the victory, during which Stanford sank 48 percent from the floor, but just 9-of-18 at the charity stripe.
Stanford is a more effective offensive team than Washington State (73.8 ppg, .461 FG percentage). Randle (18.8 ppg) is at the forefront of the scoring effort, netting 48.7 percent of his field goal tries as the third leading scorer in the conference. Dwight Powell (14.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.4 apg) does a bit of everything out of the post, providing scoring, rebounding and passing on the blocks. Anthony Brown (13.1 ppg) can also score and Josh Huestis (11.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.9 bpg) is an imposing force down low.
This isn't likely to be one of the more competitive games of the tournament, as the Cardinal put forth a balanced attack while playing solid defense.
Game Date and Time