STANFORD, Calif. - No. 6/6 Stanford begins the final weekend of its season-long five-game homestand Friday, hosting Utah for a 7 p.m. contest. Friday's contest, the final regular-season meeting between the Cardinal and the Utes, will be streamed live at http://pac-12.com/live/gostanford.aspx and will be carried on the radio at 90.1 KZSU with Preston Chin and Ashley Westhem on the call.
Last Time Out
Stanford completed the sweep of the Southern California Pac-12 schools Sunday with a 75-66 victory over USC. Chiney Ogwumike proved why she is a top contender for national player of the year, scoring 29 points and pulling down 16 rebounds to power Stanford to the win against a plucky Trojan side. Joslyn Tinkle continued to wield the hot hand, hitting on all three of her attempts from behind the arc and scoring 15 points with seven rebounds and four assists, while Amber Orrange and Sara James each scored 13 points. James continued her hot play of late by grabbing four rebounds and making a career high-matching six field goals. All 75 of Stanford's points were scored by the starters, and the Cardinal returned to rebounding form by dominating the glass to the tune of a 41-25 margin.
Utah (10-7, 1-5 Pac-12) halted a six-game skid Sunday by notching its first Pac-12 win, a 66-46 decision over Arizona State in Salt Lake City. With Anthony Levrets in his third year at the helm, the Utes are led by the play of 2012 Canadian Olympic Team member Michelle Plouffe (16.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Taryn Wicijowski (15.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
Stanford is unbeaten in 15 games against Utah entering Friday night, and defeated the Utes 70-56 in the teams' first meeting this season back on Jan. 6 in Salt Lake City.
In The Pac-12 Statistics
Through Jan. 20, Stanford ranked in the top three of 12 statistical categories amongst Pac-12 schools: scoring margin (+16.7 - first), field-goal percentage (47.6 - first), field-goal percentage defense (32.5 - first), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (25.2 - first), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.07 - first), scoring defense (53.4 ppg - second), free-throw percentage (72.3 - second), defensive rebounds (29.8 drpg - second), blocked shots (4.89 bpg - second), scoring offense (70.1 ppg - third), rebounding defense (32.7 rpg - third) and rebounding margin (+9.3 - third). Individually, Chiney Ogwumike leads the conference in scoring (22.0 ppg), and is second in rebounding (11.9 rpg) and field-goal percentage (58.3). Senior forward Joslyn Tinkle is third in the conference with 1.89 blocks per game, sixth with a 50.8 shooting percentage and seventh with a 36.4 3-point field-goal percentage. Amber Orrange is fifth in the Pac-12 with 4.11 assists per game and sixth with a 1.35 assist-to-turnover ratio. Chiney Ogwumike (85.9) and Toni Kokenis (80.0) own the third- and fifth-best free-throw percentages, respectively, in the conference.
In the National Statistics
Through the latest national statistical update (through Jan. 20), Stanford ranked in the top 20 of six categories: field-goal percentage defense (32.5 - fourth), turnovers per game (12.7 - fifth), field-goal percentage (47.6 - fifth), 3-point field-goal defense (25.2 - 15th), scoring margin (+16.7 - 16th), rebound margin (+9.3 - 16th). Chiney Ogwumike is seventh in the nation in scoring (22.0 ppg), rebounding (11.9 rpg) and field-goal percentage (58.3) and fourth with 13 double-doubles.
Ogwumike Named To John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 Chiney Ogwumike was named to the John R. Wooden Award's Midseason Top 20 Tuesday, marking her second straight appearance on the midseason list. The consensus national player of the year candidate is the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring (22.0 ppg), rebounding (11.9 rpg) and field-goal percentage (58.3). Ogwumike has also saved some of her best performances for Top-25 teams, averaging 20.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 82.1 percent from the line as Stanford as gone 6-2 against ranked teams this season.
Back On Top
Stanford returned to the top, or at least a share of the top of the Pac-12 table with this past weekend's sweep of No. 14/15 UCLA and USC. The Cardinal had been on the outside looking in at first place since Jan. 13's loss to California, which not only snapped Stanford's 81-game Pac-12 winning streak but also its streak of 1,429 days either owning outright or sharing first place in the conference. But thanks to a 75-49 win over the Bruins Friday and Sunday's 75-66 win over the Trojans, the Cardinal ended its five-day second-place experience.
Bring On The Top-25 Teams
Stanford's 75-49 victory over No. 14/15 UCLA Friday night marked its sixth win in eight games over a Top-25 team (ranked in at least one of the two major polls at the time of meeting) in 2012-13. With No. 20t/25 Colorado coming to town this Sunday, the Buffaloes will be Stanford's ninth game this regular season against a Top-25 team, matching the 2008-09 campaign. The highest amount of Top-25 teams Stanford has faced in a regular season (excluding NCAA Tournament games) is 10, occurring in 1997-98 and 1998-99. The Cardinal went 6-4 against those 10 teams in 1997-98 then posted a record of 4-6 the following season.
Stanford could eclipse that mark this year, as it still has one more regular-season matchup left at No. 19/15 UCLA (Feb. 17) and more than likely will face at least one of the Pac-12's other three ranked teams (California, UCLA, Colorado) at the Pac-12 Tournament from March 7-10.
Stanford Still No. 1 In RPI Rankings
The NCAA released the latest 2012-13 RPI rankings Jan. 21 and for the third straight week Stanford holds the No. 1 spot on the list. The Cardinal's top spot in the RPI rankings can be attributed to its 16-2 start to the season in the face of a challenging schedule, and chiefly to its 11-0 record away from home. Out of those 11 wins away from home, five came against Top-25 opponents (No. 1/1 Baylor, No. 21/17 South Carolina, No. 10/11 Tennessee, No. 20/25 Colorado, No. 7/7 California).
Ogwumike Thrives Against Top-25 Competition
Junior forward and consensus national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike has continued her award-worthy 2012-13 campaign as the Pac-12 season has gotten underway. Over the first six games of Stanford's challenging eight-game stretch to start the conference slate, Ogwumike is averaging 23.0 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 59.6 percent. So far this season, in which Ogwumike is in the national top seven in scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage, she has turned up her performance over eight games against Top-25 teams, averaging 20.9 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting 52.3 percent.
Trying To Stay Unbeaten Against Utah
The Cardinal enters Friday's meeting with Utah owning a 15-0 all-time record against the Utes, making Utah one of just two schools, along with Washington State (53-0 Stanford), against which Stanford is undefeated in a series of at least 10 meetings.
The series stretches back to the 1985-86 season, with the Cardinal earning a 77-65 win at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 13, 1986. Friday's contest will also be the 10th meeting over the past nine seasons (since 2004-05). Over the previous 15 meetings, Stanford has won by a margin of 14.7 points.
Enter The "SEJ-Hammer"
Junior guard Sara James, or "SEJ" (her initials, pronounced "Sedge") as she's known to her teammates, has fought her way into the Cardinal starting five with one of the best stretches of basketball in her collegiate career the past two weeks. Since the start of Pac-12 play on Jan. 4 at Colorado, James has averaged 7.9 points and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 57.7 percent (15-for-26) from the field. This six-game stretch includes a career-best 18-point performance on 6-for-8 shooting that featured a 3-of-5 showing from behind the arc. This past weekend against No. 14/15 UCLA and USC, James made just the second and third starts of her collegiate career and the move paid off as the El Dorado Hills native scored seven points against the Bruins then went for 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting with four rebounds Sunday against USC.
Downtown Is TinkleTown Joslyn Tinkle bounced back well this weekend from a tough week before during the home-and-home against California, averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds and going a perfect 7-for-7 from behind the arc over Stanford's wins against No. 14/15 UCLA and USC. After scoring just 12 points in two games against California, Tinkle exploded for 31 points in the wins over the Bruins and Trojans and shooting 50.0% overall from the field. Her 7-for-7 effort from behind the arc also highlighted a solid weekend of outside shooting for the Cardinal, which went a combined 12-for-19 (63.2 percent) on its 3-point attempts after having gone through a 17-for-87 (19.5 percent) slump from Dec. 15 to Jan. 13.
Her scoring output has also jump-started her march towards becoming Stanford's 34th member of the 1,000-Point Club, as she currently stands at 891 points scored in her career with 12 Pac-12 games remaining in addition to the Pac-12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
Still Not Reaching 70
This weekend's wins over No. 14/15 UCLA and USC kept up an impressive streak for the Cardinal defense as it has now held 36 straight opponents to under 70 points. The last Stanford opponent to break the 70-point barrier was California last Jan. 28 in the Cardinal's 74-71 overtime win at Maples Pavilion. The 36 straight sub-70-point games for Cardinal opponents is a program record, with the next longest streak in Cardinal history being 20 games, from Feb. 14, 2003 to Dec. 18, 2004.
Orrange Tearing Through The Pac-12
Another Cardinal player stepping up her game during Pac-12 play is sophomore point guard Amber Orrange. Last year, Orrange made her debut in the Cardinal starting lineup on the third weekend of Pac-12 play and was named Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honorable mention, and this season has continued her superb performances against her conference foes. Through the first six games of the slate, Orrange is shooting 57.4 percent from the field while averaging 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.50 assists per game.