Could Stanford have used the two ex-Cardinal players sitting behind its bench Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena? Suns players Josh Childress and Robin Lopez weren't available. Neither were Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck and Tiger Woods, three other Stanford guys in the news these days.
Turns out Stanford didn't need reinforcements. But Arizona State could certainly have used point guard Jamelle McMillan, who didn't play because of a nagging groin injury.
The Cardinal let punchless Arizona State lose the game by itself with poor shooting and an inability to solve Stanford's stifling half-court defense. Nothing fancy, just hard man-to-man. The Sun Devils produced their lowest offensive output of the season in a 55-41 loss.
The Cardinal lost an 11-point lead in the first half but got it all back and then some in the closing moments of the game. The Sun Devils made only 1 of 14 three-point shots and shot an ugly 35.4 percent from the floor. They were outrebounded 25-9 in the second half and didn't score a point over the final 4:47 of the game.
"They made shots when they had to, we didn't. Simple," ASU's Ty Abbott said.
McMillan, whose strained groin is an injury he's dealt with for a month, was a scratch just before tipoff. With McMillan, ASU has some kind of direction and organization on offense, even if he doesn't score much. Without him, the Devils looked lost and out of sorts in the half-court offense, and Stanford disrupted what rhythm there was.
"We really rely on him heavily but unfortunately, that's all part of the process. We have to focus on the guys who are able to play," coach Herb Sendek said of McMillan.
Guard Trent Lockett, who'd been nursing a sprained big toe and missed the past two games. started and scored 10 points with seven rebounds. Carick Felix and Ruslan Pateev also scored 10 for ASU (8-6 overall, 1-2 in Pac-10).
Stanford got a big game from freshman forward Josh Owens (15 points, 11 rebounds).
"We didn't have guys boxing out or doubling up on their biggest guy," Abbott said. "We had too many contested shots and that was pretty much all we could get."
The Cardinal (9-4, 2-0) took a 21-10 lead with 7:50 left in the first half, but ASU finished the half on a 13-4 run to trail 25-23 despite 12 first-half turnovers
A pair of Abbott free throws tied it 25, but Stanford regained the lead and never lost it. Felix drove hard for a highlight-film dunk with 15:09 left that got everyone on their feet and cut Stanford's lead to 32-31, but the play failed to energize the Sun Devils.
ASU got the lead down to four with two free throws with 4:47 left. Those were their last points of the game as most of the crowd of 6,660 were left to wonder where the offense had gone.
"We just have to continue to really work to make each other better on offense and help each other get shots," Sendek said.
The Devils host Cal Saturday afternoon.