Arizona 56, Stanford 43: Keeping them at bay

Arizona still in hunt after win over Cardinal seals Bay Area sweep
2012-02-05T00:01:00Z 2014-07-24T10:44:57Z Arizona 56, Stanford 43: Keeping them at bayBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 05, 2012 12:01 am  • 

STANFORD, Calif. - Kyle Fogg knows what you were probably thinking and, well, the Arizona guard and his teammates never agreed with it.

So instead of flopping at two of the Pac-12's better teams, the Wildcats went out and earned an improbable Bay Area sweep with a 56-43 win over Stanford on Saturday by holding the Cardinal to just 25.4 percent shooting.

"The thought with us is you expected us to give up," said Fogg, who led the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points. "But nobody gave up. Coaches. Players. Managers. Nobody. We all believed that we're still in this thing. We had a great week of practice and we were able to get these two wins."

There was sound reasoning for the skepticism, of course. The Wildcats were floating in mediocrity, just 5-4 in Pac-12 play entering the weekend, without a sweep of any Pac-12 two-game weekend at home or on the road this season.

California, meanwhile, was in first place and undefeated at home and Stanford had not lost at Maples Pavilion in Pac-12 play.

But underneath those ominous signs, there was some positive history. Arizona (now 16-8 overall and 7-4 in the Pac-12) had actually won three of its previous four games in the Bay Area, and is now 8-4 at Cal and Stanford over the past six seasons.

Then there was the even more recent history to look at. Yes, Arizona was just 5-4 in Pac-12 play entering the weekend but three of those losses came by a combined five points.

"Nothing's ever as bad as it seems," UA coach Sean Miller said. "I'm sure we weren't a favorite to win either game, much less a sweep, and nothing's ever as good as it seems. It's about the process and what we can control."

So the Wildcats did what they can control Saturday. They defended.

Arizona does not keep records of single-game field goal percentage but the 25.4 percent it allowed Saturday was probably one of its lowest ever in Pac-10/12 play. The Wildcats' previous low opponent shooting percentage this season was the 29.3 percent it held woeful USC to on Jan. 8 in Los Angeles.

For Stanford, the 43 points was the lowest the Cardinal had put up since it lost to Cal 43-41 in overtime during the 1984-85 season.

"It's been the toughest defensive team that we've faced," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We didn't shoot it well, (but) give them credit for that. They did a good job in a lot of areas. They were very active and their perimeter was very strong."

While Fogg and teammates helped keep well-regarded Stanford guards Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright to a combined 8-for-30 effort from the field, the Wildcats also managed to cause problems for the bigger, deeper Cardinal inside.

Most strikingly, the Wildcats swatted away a season-high eight shots, with four of the blocks coming from increasingly productive - and confident - freshman Angelo Chol.

Chol's play was so effective that, even with Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes missing with foot injuries, Miller didn't need to go beyond a seven-man rotation despite having Solomon Hill in foul trouble for most of the game.

"That game was huge for him," freshman guard Nick Johnson said of Chol. "It definitely was big and I'm looking forward to seeing where he goes from here."

The only two reserves played were Chol and guard Brendon Lavender, who added 2-of-4 three-point shooting. One of Lavender's threes helped separate the Wildcats toward the end, giving them a 45-37 lead with 5:11 to go.

"It's hard but the way we prepared, we were ready" to play shorthanded, Hill said. "Lav has to step up and I think he likes that situation, and Chol has to play more minutes."

Johnson, meanwhile, has assumed more responsibility with Mayes unable to back up at point guard. He struggled early Saturday, but wound up sealing the game with a dunk that gave the UA a 52-43 lead with 57 seconds to go.

Hill had 10 points and eight rebounds for Arizona while Fogg became a possible Pac-12 player of the week candidate with 37 total weekend points after he dropped 23 on Cal on Thursday.

While the Wildcats will return home to face Colorado and Utah this weekend, there is, of course, no guarantee that their success will continue. Not when Arizona shot only 60 percent from the free-throw line, and just 38.3 percent from the field, that is.

Johnson made just 2 of 6 free throws and Hill was 4 of 6, missing a pair in the first half.

"That's really important," Miller said. "Missing free throws will hurt us but I'm confident in saying that I think we can shoot it better than we are."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats as the Pac-12 race heats up at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Up next

• What: Colorado at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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