First look at SDSU’s non-conference opponent Stanford

SDSU runs through a drill on the team's first day of practice. Credit: Don De Mars/EVT

Maples Pavilion. Credit:

Name of the University: Stanford University

Conference: PAC-12

Date of the game: Tuesday, November 15

All-Time Series Record: Stanford leads the series 4-0

The last meeting between the schools: Stanford defeated SDSU 63-42 on December 16, 1997

The San Diego State basketball team will be matching up with their first PAC-12 opponent of the season, the Stanford Cardinal, on November 15th. The Aztecs have yet to win in a series that began on Jan. 6, 1941. It will be the first time in 25 years since they have played each other and the third time the Aztecs visit Maples Pavilion, where they are 0-2. 

The quarter century between games is not the longest gap in the series. After the 1941 meeting, the programs did not compete again until 1978. Their other two matchups occurred in the same calendar year. In February of 1997, SDSU visited Stanford and walked away with the second most lopsided defeat in school history, 97-50. Ten months later, the Cardinal came to San Diego and defeated the Aztecs 63-42 in the newly opened Cox Arena.

SDSU does not have a good overall record versus Pac-12 opponents. They are 64-149 lifetime and 14-86 in away games.

Stanford is coming off a 16-16 season where they went 8-12 in conference and lost in the quarterfinals of the PAC-12 tournament to the University of Arizona Wildcats 84-80.

Last year they played five ranked opponents in nine contests. They lost twice to their ranked non-conference opponents, #9 Baylor 86-48 and #17 Texas 60-53. In conference, they beat the University of Southern California twice, who were ranked #5 early in the season and then dropped to #15 in their second meeting. They lost twice to UCLA, ranked #7 early, then #12 later in the season. The Cardinal played the Wildcats three times and lost all their matches against a team that hovered #2 and #3 when they played. 

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Spotlight on returning player: Senior forward Spencer Jones, 6’7’’, 225 pounds

Senior forward Spencer Jones averaged a team-leading 12 points last season for the Cardinal. The Roeland Park, the Kansas native, shot 47.4% from the field with 136 field goals made and 37.6% from three with 62 three-pointers made last season.

He started 31 out of Stanford’s 32 games last year. He missed one game due to a hip injury. Jones scored over 20 points seven times a year ago. His highest totals came in the final two games of the season. On back-to-back nights in the Pac-12 tournament, he scored 26 and 28 points. Jones leads a trio of shooters that is expected to be among the best on the West coast. 


Spotlight on top incoming transfer: guard Michael Jones                6’5’’, 205 pounds

Michael Jones, who played 82 games and averaged 8.1 points his past three years with the Davidson Wildcats, is transferring to Stanford as a graduate student. Last season, he averaged 11.8 points, shot 46.1% from the floor, and 42.1% from the three-point line.

He helped Davidson to a 27-7 overall record and a 15-3 record in the Atlantic 10 conference. In the Atlantic 10 championship game against Richmond, they lost 64-62. Jones had 17 points, played the most minutes out of his teammates with 38, and went 6 for 14 from the floor in the game. 

He is the first graduate transfer in Stanford’s history and the first transfer of any type in 12 years

The Cardinal’s two Jones’s averaged about the same amount of points, which the Aztec defense will need to keep an eye on heading into the match.  

The most memorable game for the two teams

In a sign of how far SDSU’s program has come, the four-game losing streak against the Cardinal is tied for the second-longest active losing streak for the program. The closest SDSU has come to defeating Stanford was on December 29, 1978. The Cardinal defeated the Aztecs, led by sophomore point guard Tony Gwynn, 85-84. 

Page 16 of the SDSU 1978-79 annual. It shows leading scorer #34, Kim Goetz, and #14, Mike Dodd. Credit: SDSU Digital Library

With 24 seconds remaining in the game, SDSU guard Jim Ranson came to the free throw line with the game tied at 83. It was a curious decision by head coach Tim Vezie to have Ranson in the game at that point. Ranson only averaged 9.6 minutes and 2.3 points on the year. Including the crucial pair at Stanford, Ranson would only attempt 15 foul shots in the 1978-1979 season. On the other hand, Ranson was dependable with the ball. In his two seasons on the Mesa, he did not commit a turnover. 

Ranson made the first free throw to put the Aztecs up 84-83. He missed the second, which spurred a mad scramble for the ball between SDSU forward Presnell Gilbert and Stanford forward Kimberly Belton. The ensuing scrum resulted in a jump ball. The current NCAA rule of alternating possession on any tie-ups was adopted in 1981. In this game, a true jump ball was given. 

Belton won the tip, setting up Stanford for the final shot. Cardinal freshman guard Brian Welch threw up a desperation prayer that was not answered but forward Jeff Ryan, who averaged only 4.4 points that season, tipped in the winning bucket to make it 85-84. 

The Scarlet and Black were 15-12 overall and 4-8 in the Western Athletic Conference, and the Cardinal 12-15 overall and 6-12 in the PAC-12 that season.

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