Stanford downs Washington State, moves on to face Arizona State in Pac-12 tournament

Ethan Miller

A win puts Stanford on the doorstep of the NCAA tournament - Johnny Dawkins' first one on the Farm

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.

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