The 7-7 Stanford Cardinal (14-12 overall) play the 6-8 Arizona Wildcats (15-12 overall) tonight at McKale Center in Tucson. These teams played in January at Stanford and the Cats came away with a 75-70 win.
Key Players for Stanford:
#0 KZ Okpala 6’9″ F (So.) 17.6 points per game, 5.8 rebounds
#20 Josh Sharma 7’0″ C (Sr.) 9.7 ppg, 6.2 rebs, 70% FG
#1 Daejon Davis 6’3″ G (So.) 12.3 ppg, 4.4 assists, 3 rebs
Key Players for Arizona:
#4 Chase Jeter 6’10” C (Jr.) 11.6 ppg, 7 rebs
#5 Brandon Randolph 6’5″ G (So.) 13.2 ppg, 3.5 rebs
#12 Justin Coleman 5’10” G (Sr.) 9 ppg, 3.9 assists
#10 Ryan Luther 6’9″ F (Sr.) 8.3 ppg, 4.3 rebs, 40% 3-pt
Offense: The Cardinal are averaging 73.7 points per game in conference while the Wildcats are at 70.5. Okpala and Davis are Stanford’s leading scorers and players but lately big man Josh “don’t squeeze the” Sharma has been dominating the interior. In his last three games he is averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds and is shooting an absurd 89% from the field. He only missed 3 of his 27 shots over those 3 games. He’s shooting 78% in league play and he and teammate Oscar DeSilva are 1 and 2 in field goal percentage for the year among all Pac-12 players. Sharma and DeSilva are also tied for 7th place in the Pac with a 1.2 blocks per game average.
Sharma is 3rd in the Pac-12 in EFF (efficiency rating) at 25.7. Chase Jeter for Arizona, whom Sharma will match up against tonight, is in 10th place with a 22.7 EFF. (EFF is calculated by Points+Rebs+Assists+Steals+Blocks-Turnovers-Missed Field Goals-Missed Free Throws.)
Daejon Davis for Stanford is an extremely talented young guard who is coming off one of his worst games of the year. In their recent loss at Arizona St. he tallied a negative EFF for only the 2nd time in Pac-12 play. The first time being against Washington. KZ Okpala is the star for this team and will once agains be a matchup problem for the Cats. In their last meeting Okpala had 29 points on 11-16 shooting.
Arizona’s recent win over Cal broke a 7 game losing streak as they held the Golden Bears to 51 total points on 30% shooting. Ryan Luther, in his last 3 games, is shooting 57% from 3. The Cats have had 10 games in a row now that they haven’t shot over 50% from the field as a team. In this recent win against Cal they were at .491. Every game this season that the Wildcats have shot 50% or higher has been a win (4-0).
Stanford has played quite a bit of 2-3 zone this season and recently the Wildcats have slipped in a few zone possessions here and there as well. Stanford has the best 2-point % defense in the league as teams are only shooting 47% against them. However, they are 11th in the Pac-12 allowing teams to shoot almost 39% against them from 3.
Arizona is allowing about 72 points per game in conference play. Stanford does turn the ball over quite a bit and the Cats should be able to get some breakaway points off turnovers in this game. The Cats themselves are the best in the league at not turning the ball over as they are averaging only 10.7 turnovers a game. Stopping Sharma, DeSilva, and Okpala on the interior and keeping them off the glass will be a challenge for them as they will be out-sized in the front court. Foul trouble is a problem for every team but Chase Jeter will need to play a clean game because without him on the court for this matchup they will be at a huge disadvantage inside–one they probably wouldn’t be able to overcome. Arizona could send a double team in the post and take their chances against a Stanford team that isn’t a great perimeter shooting team. They do have some good shooters, but as a team they are shooting only 31% from 3 in conference games.
Summary: The pace and style of play for this game will be interesting as Arizona seems to have the advantage with better overall guard play but Stanford has the advantage in the post. Arizona is a streaky team from the perimeter and they will get a lot of looks from 3 if Stanford chooses to stay in their zone. Rebounding and help defense will be keys for the Wildcats as they look to establish some momentum as the Pac-12 season as there are only 3 more conference games left after this one.