10:00 PM ET, February 27, 2003
Maples Pavilion, Stanford, California
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Before the Stanford basketball team would sing "Happy Birthday'' to its coach, Mike Montgomery had to explain his technical foul -- his first of the season on the day he turned 56.It didn't matter much. Julius Barnes scored 29 points and No. 19 Stanford increased its season-best winning streak to six games, defeating Arizona State 88-77 Thursday night. Barnes was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers and made all 13 of his free throws as the Cardinal (22-6, 13-3 Pac-10) won for the 10th time in 11 games and 13th in 15. They have won nine straight at home and 11 in a row against the Sun Devils. ``We serenaded him in the locker room,'' Barnes said of Montgomery. Montgomery was whistled for a technical in the first half for bumping a referee, something the coach said was an accident. He believed a fight was about to break out in the corner of the court by Stanford's bench and was trying to get in position to assist in breaking it up if necessary, he said. The fans didn't hold it against him. Stanford's band performed the Beatles' ``Birthday'' for Montgomery minutes after the final buzzer. ``Were they serenading me?'' Montgomery asked. ``I wasn't listening. After a certain age, you don't do birthdays anymore.'' He had better things to be concerned with -- like Arizona State freshman Ike Diogu. Diogu, who entered the game averaging 19.7 points and 9.4 rebounds in his past seven games, had 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting and nine rebounds before fouling out for the first time all season with 3:27 left. Curtis Millage added 21 points. ``This was a very winnable game for us,'' Diogu said. ``We had our chances, but we had some defensive lapses at key times late in the game and we blew it. We should have pulled this one off and we all feel really bad about it.'' Josh Childress had 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Stanford, which hosts No. 1 Arizona on Saturday in Maples Pavilion. Justin Davis had 11 rebounds. The Sun Devils (17-9, 9-6) have lost consecutive games to ranked teams, and they play at 23rd-ranked California on Sunday. Arizona State lost to Arizona last Saturday in Tempe, 92-72. After struggling early, Arizona State began the second half with an 8-2 run, the first four points by Millage. The Sun Devils were more aggressive on offense and going to the boards. But Stanford withstood every challenge by hitting big baskets or making other key plays, such as drawing an offensive foul. When Diogu scored with 11:02 remaining, his team's first basket in nearly four minutes, Childress sank a 3-pointer to make it 62-51. And after Childress shot an airball from long-range with 8:52 to go, Stanford still turned the play into two points. Matt Haryasz controlled the rebound, was fouled and converted both free throws. In the first half, Barnes had nine points in a span of 3:37, including back-to-back 3-pointers during a 13-0 run in which the Cardinal had three straight 3s. The spurt followed a 7-0 run by the Sun Devils in which they built a 16-11 lead. ``They were falling in for me tonight, so I was lucky,'' Barnes said. ``I'm concentrating a lot more now that it's late in the season. I'm just trying to help this team get as far as it can into the postseason. ``We're playing with more intensity. We've been here before and we know the level we have to sustain to win.'' Stanford shot 65.4 percent (17-for-26) in the first half and led by as many as 13 to build a 48-36 halftime lead. The Cardinal shot 51.9 percent for the game. Arizona State, the top team in the conference in field-goal percentage at 49.1 percent, was limited to 47.5 shooting. The Sun Devils' Donnell Knight went to the bench just 4:21 into the game after getting hit in the throat and then having breathing trouble. He sat the rest of the half, but returned to start after halftime and had three assists.