On Wednesday night, Stanford men’s basketball (12-12, 4-8 Pac-12) took on the No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (22-3, 11-1 Pac-12) at the McHale Center for another Pac-12 battle. While the Cardinal kept the game close for both halves, Arizona’s defense proved to be too strong, closing the game out 74-67.
Stanford has not been particularly strong in the Pac-12 this season. With this loss they sink down to .500 in conference matches. The team has continued to be hit by untimely injuries which has hurt their ability to come together as a cohesive unit.
The Wildcats were the first repeat opponent of the year for the Cardinal, who had hoped to rebound from an embarrassing 91-52 loss to Arizona on New Year’s Day. While the team did manage to improve on that performance, they failed to pull out the win in a closely contested game.
Stanford started the game strong, coming out at a blistering pace and advancing to a quick 7-0 lead. However, Arizona quickly recovered its offensive firepower and battled back to lead 35-32 at halftime. The second half proved to be more of the same, with the Wildcats being able to put up enough points to hold off Stanford.
After chasing Arizona for much of the second half, Stanford managed to tie the game at 65-65 with 2:11 left in the second half off a layup by senior guard Marcus Allen. However, impressive three-point shooting by the Wildcats in the last 2 minutes proved to be too much as they quickly regained a 72-67 lead after Stanford missed both of their opportunities. A late three-point attempt by Dorian Pickens was not enough, as Stanford lost a disappointing 74-67.
Junior Reid Travis proved to be the most impressive offensive player for either team, putting up 26 points and shooting 11-19 from the field. This is his eighth 20-point game of the season, something even more impressive when one considers the games he has missed due to injury. Allen also put up impressive numbers, scoring 15 points during his 34 minutes on the court.
While both teams had similar shockingly shooting percentages (with Stanford’s at 42.2 percent to Arizona’s 42.6 percent), the Wildcats’ stronger defensive play in key moments showed why they are ranked in the top-10 nationally. The Cardinal had flashes of being a top team themselves, but once again proved unable to put up the consistency required to unseat top opponents.
With this game, Stanford is now 0-7 against ranked opponents in the Associated Press poll this season. With an NCAA playoff berth looking more and more unlikely, the team will have to rally around its junior core of Travis, Pickens, Michael Humphrey and Robert Cartwright, and continue to improve with eyes firmly on next season.
Contact Amanda McLean at ammclean ‘at’ stanford.edu.