Arizona sets sights on outright Pac-12 title
03/02/2014 7:55 AM
03/02/2014 7:58 AM
Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - In their final home game, the third-ranked Arizona Wildcats shoot for the Pac-12 Conference regular-season title when they battle the Stanford Cardinal.
Stanford nearly became the first team to beat Arizona this season, when it fell in a 60-57 final to the then top-ranked Wildcats back on Jan. 29. Arizona found a way to win that contest, its eighth straight victory over the Cardinal. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 56-29.
This is the last road game of the season for the Cardinal, which dropped a 76-64 decision at Arizona State last time out. Stanford is still a solid 18-9 overall, and in a four-way tie with Arizona State, Colorado and California for third place in the Pac-12 standings. It faces Colorado and Utah at home in its final two contests of the season.
Arizona avenged one of its only two losses on Wednesday with an 87-59 romp over California. The win was the third straight for the Pac-12-leading Wildcats (13-2), who have already clinched a share of the conference crown, but would have it all to themselves with a win today. They will venture off to face Oregon State and Oregon to wrap up the regular season.
Stanford did not enjoy a strong offensive night in its loss to Arizona State. The Cardinal were only able to sink 39.6 percent of their shots from the floor, compared to a 55.1 percent showing they allowed to the Sun Devils. Anthony Brown scored 21 points as the top scorer for the losing side.
Led by four double-digit scorers, Stanford is generating enough offense (75.2 ppg, .466 FG percentage) to win most nights out. The Cardinal are also a sturdy defensive unit, limiting foes to 69 ppg on 41.5 percent shooting. Chasson Randle (18.7 ppg) is the top scoring threat for the team and the third-best scorer in the conference overall. Randle finished with 17 points on 7-of-14 from the field against Arizona State. Dwight Powell (14.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.7 apg) is the next best offensive weapon and a strong passer from the frontcourt. Brown (13.7 ppg) and Josh Huestis (11.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2 bpg) add depth.
Arizona dominated California in just about every way possible on Wednesday. The Wildcats outshot the Golden Bears, .508 to .436, claimed a 42-25 edge on the glass, and outscored them at the foul line, 17-7. Nick Johnson scored 22 points to lead five players in double figures in the victory.
Sean Miller's squad has been able to have so much success this season due to its ability to put on the brakes defensively. The Wildcats rank fifth in the country in scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and sixth in opponent field goal percentage (.381). On offense, Arizona is solid enough, shooting 47.1 percent from the floor and netting 73.9 ppg. Nick Johnson (16.2 ppg) carries the offensive load, with freshman Aaron Gordon (11.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Kaleb Tarczewski (10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) providing some additional scoring help. Gordon had 13 points against California and Tarczewski added 16 points. T.J. McConnell (8.2 ppg, 5.6 apg) takes a back seat as a scorer, but is instrumental in running the offense.
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