It should come as no surprise if Arizona State’s Jahii Carson comes up aces at the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, where the third-seeded Sun Devils face No. 6 seed Stanford in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Carson scored 34 points in a first-round win over the Cardinal in last year’s tournament and has averaged 28.8 points on 59.6 percent shooting in five career games in Las Vegas. The 5-10 point guard averaged 25 points in two games this season against Stanford, which defeated Washington State 74-63 in Wednesday’s first round.
The Cardinal are hoping to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years under coach Johnny Dawkins, but they probably didn’t impress the selection committee Wednesday. Stanford trailed with 9:25 remaining before drawing clear from the Cougars, who were 3-15 in league play. Stanford and Arizona State split two games during the regular season, with the Cardinal winning 76-70 at home Feb. 1 before losing 76-64 in Tempe on Feb. 26.
TV: 11:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT STANFORD (20-11): The Cardinal feature a talented starting lineup of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, Josh Huestis, Dwight Powell and Stefan Nastic, but fatigue could be a factor after all five played extensive minutes against the Cougars. Powell and Randle received All-Pac-12 first team honors, and Brown was named as the league’s most improved player after missing most of last season with a hip injury. Powell, a 6-10 senior, averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in two games against the Sun Devils this season.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (21-10): The Sun Devils closed the season with two straight losses to the Oregon schools, but received some good news Monday when center Jordan Bachynski was named as the league’s top defensive player and Carson received All-Pac-12 first-team honors. Bachynski leads the nation with 131 blocks, but the Sun Devils’ conference-worst rebounding margin (minus-2.3) could mean trouble against Stanford’s formidable frontline. Forward Shaquielle McKissic could be a difference maker after averaging 6.6 rebounds over his last seven games.
1. Arizona State is 3-11 in the conference tournament since 2002.
2. Stanford has not won at least two games in the conference tournament since a runner-up finish to UCLA in 2008.
3. Sun Devils G Jermaine Marshall averaged 19 points in two games against Stanford this season.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 71, Stanford 69