Stanford Men's Basketball: Preview: Stanford MBB heads to Pullman to face Washington State
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Preview: Stanford MBB heads to Pullman to face Washington State

On Thursday at 2:00 PM PT on ESPNU and Cardinal Sports Network radio, Stanford men’s basketball will take on Washington State up in Pullman. Stanford comes in at 9-4 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12 while Washington State comes in at 9-6 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

Last time out: On Tuesday, Stanford stunned #5 USC 75-69 at Maples Pavilion. Harrison Ingram and Spencer Jones each had 21 points for Stanford.

RECAP: Stanford MBB upsets #5 USC at Maples

On Washington State: The Cougars are led by senior guard Michael Flowers (13.3 points), junior guard Noah Williams (12.6 points), and redshirt junior guard Tyrell Roberts (11.3 points). The three of them provide a nice scoring balance in the backcourt and overall have their team off to a solid start.

The Cougars have two dominant league wins at Utah and at Arizona State while their two losses were close against USC at home and at Colorado. Had a couple of shots fallen or not fallen, they could easily be 3-1 in league or even 4-0.

As a team, the Cougars average 75.9 points per game on 42.9% shooting from the field, 34.4% shooting from 3-point range, and 75.2% shooting from the foul line. They average 39.0 rebounds per game, 10.9 assists, 6.1 steals, 4.5 blocks, and 12.1 turnovers per game. They also average a +5.9 rebound margin and a +2.1 turnover margin per game. Their opponents average 64.4 points per game on 39.5% shooting from the field, 30.4% shooting from 3-point range, and 73.6% shooting from the foul line.

Keys to the game: The first thing Stanford needs to do in order to win this game is make their threes. We saw on Tuesday that when guys like Spencer Jones, Noah Taitz, and Harrison Ingram are knocking down their threes, that really takes Stanford’s game to another level. Stanford hit 10 threes against USC. Washington State defends the 3-point line well, so it won’t be easy for Stanford to replicate that kind of shooting success, but if they do, they should be in good shape.

Secondly, Stanford needs to take care of the ball. Stanford had just three turnovers against USC on Tuesday in the second half, which really allowed them to have quality possessions and pull away late in the game. If Stanford can take good care of the ball, they’re going to be tough for the Cougars to stop.

Finally, Stanford needs to dominate the glass. Stanford held their own on the boards against USC, losing the rebounding battle by just one. It was the first time all season they had lost the rebounding battle, so they’ve been excellent in this department all year long. If Stanford wins the battle on the boards, I like their chances.

Prediction: Washington State has been good at home, but they’ve been beaten three times on their home floor by New Mexico State, USC, and Eastern Washington, so they’re far from invincible in Pullman. Considering the three game winning streak Stanford is on and the way they beat #5 USC on Tuesday, I’m going to pick them to pull this one out, though it’s going to be close. Stanford 74 Washington State 71 is my prediction.

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