Washington (11-2) at Stanford (9-3); Sunday January 4th, 7:00pm;
Pac-12 Networks ESPNU and ESPN3.
These two teams are headed in opposite directions. The Huskies are flailing after beginning 11-0 only to lose two straight, first to Stony Brook and then the Pac-12 opener at Cal. With little chance to rest or regroup, UW will face a Cal team that has won two straight games by comfortable margins following a breakthrough OT road win over #9 Texas.
The Cardinal last lost on December 20th to BYU by a razor-thin two-point margin. They most recently beat WSU 71-56 on Friday in the comfort of their own home.
Probable Starters: G Chasson Randle (Sr., 6-2, 185), G Christian Sanders (Jr., 6-4, 185), G/F Anthony Brown (Sr., 6-6, 215), F Grant Verhoeven (Jr., 6-9, 245), C Stefan Nastic (Sr., 6-11, 245).
Key Reserves: F Rosco Allen (Jr., 6-9, 220) G Robert Cartwright (Fr., 6-2, 170), G Malcolm Allen (So., 6-1, 180), F Michael Humphrey (Fr., 6-9, 218), G/F Dorian Pickens (Fr., 6-5, 215).
Randle is still the star of this Stanford team. He averages 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. However, he's only shooting 41% from the field and he turns over the ball 2.5 times per contest.
The big man Nastic is right behind him in scoring with 14.5 points along with 6.5 boards and a team-high 1.3 blocks. Anthony Brown leads the team in rebounding (despite being the 3rd tallest starter) with 7.1 and ranks third in scoring with 13.9 points. He adds a valuable third option that keeps the team from depending too much on the mercurial Randle.
Verhoeven is listed as a probable starter, likely due to the injury of Reid Travis. He had not played double-digit minutes in any one contest before logging 15 minutes against WSU. Sanders is a similar story. He will almost certainly start, but he has not scored more than 5 points in any one game and only played 8 minutes against WSU.
Rosco Allen missed several weeks early in the season, but he has played a key reserve role in the last few weeks. He averaged 25 minutes a contest, and has contributed 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds on average. Cartwright will be the first to check in for Sanders.
Now that Washington is failing to consistently defend well on the perimeter as the offense continues to struggle, UW hardly resembles the team that scrapped out wins over San Diego State and Oklahoma.
The conference-opener at Cal was a test, and the Huskies failed. Stony Brook no longer looks like a fluke, and the Huskies seem unlikely to make a turnaround in the middle of the same road trip against a better opponent.
The benefit of the doubt belongs with Stanford. If the Huskies are to regain their non-conference form, it will be due to a return to stifling perimeter defense and a cut down in sloppy turnovers.
Unfortunately over the previous two seasons those exact problems persisted all year long, so even after only two losses, I'll need to see the turnaround before I'm comfortable predicting it.
Washington 65, Stanford 71