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Cold-shooting Stanford falls at ASU, 80-62

KZ Okpala’s absence loomed large

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Winning at ASU (18-8, 9-5) isn’t an easy task. Winning there without leading scorer and do-everything forward KZ Okpala is even tougher. Stanford (14-12, 7-7) put up a fight, but ultimately couldn’t get over the hump.

The Cardinal got off to a fair start, taking the lead on a number of occasions in the first half. Though they were mired in turnovers, they were getting good looks at the basket. Josh Sharma, reigning Conference Player of the Week, was beating up on the Devils’ bigs, scoring 10 points on 4-4 shooting before picking up his second personal.

Arizona State made a strong finish to the half with Sharma on the bench. They were able to use strong outside shooting to push the lead to 42-34 by the break, and give themselves what proved to be enough breathing room for the rest of the way.

There appeared to be a lid on the Cardinal basket in the second half. They cleaned it up, committing just three turnovers in the period, but shot an anemic 30%, including 0-12 from deep. They were able to keep the deficit around 8 points for an extended period, but couldn’t seem to mount that charge and put serious game pressure on the Devils.

Sharma picked up his third personal with 18 minutes to go, and subsequently road the pine for some 8 minutes. His absence was significant for the Cardinal. For much of the contest, he was the only thing they had going.

The Sun Devils shot an uncharacteristic 9-21 on threes. The Cardinal attempted the same amount, but made 7 fewer, accounting for the difference in the game.

Taeshon Cherry made 3 bombs for the Devils, before getting ejected for his third flagrant foul of the game. In the first half, he received a Flagrant 1 for a hook-and-hold on Jaiden Delaire. Later in the game, he was caught tripping Delaire, receiving a Flagrant 2 and in all likelihood a suspension. It was a shameful display.

Stanford may have lost by 18, but they were in this game for the majority of the way. If they could have shot a bit better, things could have been very interesting. Certainly playing without KZ Okpala was tough, as he’s the go-to guy to get a basket when the offense needs one.

Okpala was a late scratch after getting injured in practice, and is considered day-to-day. The Cardinal have 4 days before their next game, when they put their 18 game losing streak to Arizona on the line in Tucson.

Stanford was led by Sharma’s 17 and 7, on 7-7 shooting. Oscar da Silva was the only other player in double figures for the Cardinal; he had 15 points, but went 0-6 from behind the arc. Daejon Davis had just 6 points, going 1-8 from the field and committing 4 turnovers.

Remy Martin and Rob Edwards paced the Devils with 16 apiece. Freshmen Lu Dort and Taeshon Cherry each chipped in 11.