Tucson, AZ - With a sellout crowd on Sunday night at the McKale Center, the Arizona Wildcats rallied behind an eleven-point deficit to avenge the Stanford Cardinal 82-71. Heading into the game, the Wildcats coming off a two-game win streak by defeating the Oregon Ducks in Eugene and destroying California at home, the team had lots of confidence to seek revenge on the Cardinal. For Stanford, a hard-fought win in Tempe against Arizona State and running the ‘Cats out of the gym last time out with a 100-82 win in early December, the team had high hopes for round two in Tucson.
Right from tip-off, Stanford shot the lights out from all over the floor. Junior Maxime Raynaud from France with 21 first-half points and Senior Michael Jones with 16 of his own led the Cardinal to shoot 47% from the field and go 9/19 beyond the arc to head into the break up 45-34. For the Wildcats, shooting a solid 44% from the field and 46% from three were pleased with that performance, but the six turnovers was the big difference in the first half.
Coming out of the locker rooms, Arizona dominated inside the paint by feeding the beast Oumar Ballo, and letting him go to work with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and a block all in the second half to lead the comeback for the Wildcats. Not far behind is KJ Lewis with 10 points on 4/5 shooting with 2 steals who brought the much-needed energy from the bench.
After a very strong first half for Stanford, they ran out of juice in the second, putting up a whopping 28% from the field, and only scored 26 points as a team. Despite the ‘Cats going 0/5 from three as a team in the second half, the Cardinal had no answer for Arizona’s paint dominance by giving up 48 points in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
With Caleb Love having an inefficient night from the field despite shooting 31%, the likes of having Oumar Ballo, finishing with yet another double-double, by posting 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 8/12 shooting. Along with Pelle Larsson, scoring 17 points on 8/11 from the field and the unsung hero in KJ Lewis coming off the bench and delivering in clutch situations with the and-1 dagger late in the game helped the Wildcats seal the win and get the last laugh on Stanford.
Next up for Arizona is a road trip where they will face the Utah Utes (15-7 (6-5)) in Salt Lake City on Thursday at 6 pm. Then traveling to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes (15-7 (6-5)) on Saturday at 8 pm. It will be a tough test for the Wildcats as all of the teams’ losses have been on the road. Not to mention, the high altitudes in both Utah and Colorado will be a huge disadvantage for the Wildcats. However, the last time Arizona played Utah they crushed the Utes 92-73 and the previous matchup vs the Buffaloes was an absolute clinic in McKale winning 97-50. The Wildcats open as favorites against both teams and look to keep it that way and retain sole possession of first place in the PAC-12.