TEMPE, Ariz. — Stanford had a rough nonconference experience, losing to the likes of Eastern Washington and Portland State. Arizona State was a perfect 12-0 at the same time, with wins over Xavier and Kansas.
The Pac-12 season turned things around for both schools, right through the frantic finish of the teams’ regular-season finale.
Dorian Pickens, playing just down the road from where he grew up, scored all 20 of his points in the second half for Stanford and the Cardinal held on through a wild final minute to beat the Sun Devils 84-83 on Saturday, a damaging blow to Arizona State’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
Reid Travis had 24 points and 14 rebounds and Kz Okpala 18 points and 10 boards for the Cardinal (17-14, 11-7 Pac-12), who have won four of their last five.
“We lost our first conference game to Cal at home, which was really a gut-wrencher,” Stanford head coach Jerod Haase said. “And from that point on our team has done some really nice things.”
Tra Holder had 19 points, Shannon Evans 17 and Remy Martin 14 for Arizona State (20-10, 8-10).
Daejon Davis’ spin move for a layup proved to be the winning basket with 42 seconds left.
Arizona State, down 19 early in the second half, tied it at 82 on Kodi Justice’s 3-pointer with 1:13 left but Justice missed three of four free throws in the final 20 seconds.
Pickens, the best free throw shooter on the Stanford team, also missed two from the line with 18 seconds, though, and a Stanford turnover with 4.1 seconds left gave Arizona State a final chance. Evans drove the lane and passed to Martin, who had to rush his shot in traffic from the baseline and it bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
“We’ve been in positions like that all year. It was just hectic,” Travis said. “I wish we would have taken care of the ball a little more, but at the end of the day we got shots when we needed to and got stops when we needed to.”
It was a tough end to the final home game for the seniors Justice, Holder and Evans.
“The meaning of it, that’s why it stings so much,” Justice said. “But it’s basketball. We’ll live to fight another day.”
The Cardinal outscored Arizona State 22-1 at the end of the first half and start of the second to lead 55-36 on Pickens’ 3-pointer just 3:16 into the second half. The Sun Devils went 7½ , minutes without a field goal in that stretch.
But against an Arizona State team that scores in bunches, Haase was far from at ease.
“There was never a comfort level,” he said.
For good reason.
Harassing the Cardinal with a full-court press, Arizona State came back with an 18-4 run, cutting the Stanford lead to 59-54 on Kimani Lawrence’s dunk with 12:45 to play. Pickens responded with three 3s in a 13-4 surge that boosted the lead to 72-58 with 9:11 left.
The Sun Devils, who never led in the second half, rallied yet again to set up the crazy conclusion.
“To start the second half, we didn’t have enough energy and they were able to generate the lead they did,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “But it’s who we are, man. We fight. We’ve got an amazing will to win and desire to win.”
Stanford scored the final seven points of the first half to lead 40-35.
The Cardinal opened the second half with a 14-1 outburst, including two 3s by Pickens, who went to high school in Phoenix and said he had about 25 to 30 friends and family members watching his final regular-season performance.
Pickens made 6-of-10 shots in the second half, including 5-of-9 3s.
Stanford, with its strong showing in conference play and a split on the road to finish the season, will be a tough out for anyone in the Pac-12 tournament.
No. 19 Arizona 66, California 54
TUCSON, Ariz. — Deandre Ayton had 26 points and 20 rebounds, helping No. 19 Arizona clinch the Pac-12 regular-season title outright with a 66-54 victory over California on Saturday night.
Arizona (24-7, 14-4) had the title in its sights for its seniors’ final home game. Instead of rolling against the Pac-12’s last-place team, the Wildcats had a hard time shaking the Bears (8-23, 2-16).
Arizona closed the game with a 13-1 run, finishing off its fifth Pac-12 title in six seasons in the final home game for seniors Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Keanu Pinder.
Allonzo Trier, Arizona’s second-leading scorer, had a rough final home game of the 2017-18 season, finishing with two points on 1-of-10 shooting, including 0 for 7 on 3-pointers.
Cal bounced back from a disappointing first game on the road trip through the desert, keeping the Wildcats within reach until the final 3 minutes.
Justice Seung had 17 points to lead the Bears, who ended the regular season with seven straight losses.
Arizona had a tumultuous week, starting with an ESPN report that coach Sean Miller was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to Ayton to attend the school.
Miller did not coach in an overtime loss to Oregon last Saturday and missed the first three days of practice this week while Arizona officials sorted out what to do. Miller made a statement on Thursday to vehemently deny the report and, a few hours later, university Robert C. Robbins announced Miller he remain as coach.
Miller received a standing ovation before Arizona played Stanford later that night and the Wildcats clinched a share of the Pac-12 title with a 75-67 win over the Cardinal.
Cal held its own against the Wildcats in the first half by getting good penetration off the dribble, something it didn’t do in a lopsided loss to Arizona State on Thursday. The Bears took a 17-16 lead with a 7-0 run and rallied from 11 down to pull within 38-35 at halftime on Don Coleman’s lean-in 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Both teams shot well in the first half. Neither did to start the second, including with a combined scoreless streak that stretched past 4 minutes.
The Bears used a slowed-down game to their advantage keeping Arizona within reach until the Wildcats pieced together a 6-0 run to go up 61-53 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Cal bounced back nicely from its 31-point loss to Arizona State with a solid performance that should give it a boost headed into next week’s Pac-12 Tournament.
The Bears open the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday as the No. 12 seed.