It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was pretty much quintessential Johnny Dawkins basketball. But it was enough in the end.
Even though an ugly beginning to the second half left the Cardinal trailing the 10-win Cougars for a brief moment, Stanford downed Washington State 74-63 behind 22 from Chasson Randle and 16 from Dwight Powell, moving them along in the Pac-12 tournament - and moving the Cardinal into what is certainly its most important game of the year.
Stanford topped its 20th win of the season, giving a boost to its NCAA tournament hopes, but a win against Arizona State on Thursday would all but assure the Cardinal of a spot in the dance - while cutting the hamstrings of one of the teams it's looking up at in the conference standings.
It's just a little bit of poetic justice that Johnny Dawkins gets a chance to redeem himself against the team that bounced the Cardinal from the conference tourney a year ago, when a furious late rally from Aaron Bright ultimately fell short in an 89-88 overtime defeat.
For the Cardinal, it's all about how much Jahii Carson scores, and when he decides to do it. He scored 34 in last year's Pac-12 tourney matchup, proving all but unguardable for Chasson Randle and Bright. This year, he's tallied 50 points in two games against Stanford - one an easy win for the Devils at home, the other a six-point loss at Maples.
DaVonte Lacy, another flashy, nimble guard, had his way with the Cardinal on Tuesday, which seems to set a bad precedent with Carson on deck now.
Altogether, Thursday's game is Stanford's chance to leave one last good impression on the tournament committee and essentially assure their spot. A loss wouldn't eliminate the Cardinal by any means, but it likely would push them into "the last four in-last four out" conversation - a dangerous place to be.
Win, and you finally reap the rewards you've been searching for these last 6 years.
Lose... and the Cardinal might need a little help from Hunter S. Thompson's dopp kit ("two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine...") to calm their nerves on selection Sunday.