STANFORD, Calif. -- The official play-by-play says Arizona kept Stanford scoreless for eight minutes and 42 seconds late in the second half of the Wildcats’ 60-57 win Thursday.

The Wildcats also kept the Cardinal scoreless for periods of four, two, two and nearly three minutes in the first half.

But Brandon Ashley and the Wildcats also go by another measurement: What they call “kills” – three straight defensive stops – and they had five of those in the first half and several in the second. Their 8:42 second-half stretch included 10 fruitless Stanford possessions.

“We want to get as many kills as we can, hold them to as few points as we can," Ashley said. "We held them to a pretty low percentage of shots… that’s what won us the game.”

UA held Stanford to 37.5 percent shooting overall, contained standout Cardinal guard Chasson Randle to 3-for-15 shooting and generally made up for their own field-goal and free-throw shooting trouble – as well as their failure to outrebound Stanford.

“We’re an outstanding defensive team and it wasn’t as if we changed any scheme,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “We just had guys buckle down and play hard. To hold them to what we did was a big reason we won. Our defense was a big reason we won the game tonight.”

It was a big reason Stanford left Maples frustrated.

“We let them move us off our spots offensively,” Stanford forward Josh Huestis said. “We can’t let the defense push us out because then we are running our offense too far back. That messes us up. … We need to work on fighting for those positions and not let defenses push us out and contest us."

While Miller said part of the reason for Stanford’s 38-36 rebounding advantage was that the Cardinal is big and experienced inside, a lack of intensity also may have something to do with it.

That’s the way Nick Johnson appeared to look at it, at least.

“I felt like for the majority of the game, they played harder than us,” Johnson said. “That’s the first time all season we’ve been outrebounded. We’re one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country and we had one offensive rebound at the half. Stuff like that is pure effort.”

One of the Wildcats’ stated preseason goals just became a bit closer Wednesday, and it's still January.

With Cal’s overtime loss to ASU, the Wildcats are at least three games up in the loss column over everyone in the Pac-12 except UCLA, which will not get a chance to play them again.

That means if UA can beat Cal on Saturday and if UCLA loses one of its games in Oregon this weekend, the Wildcats will have an almost insurmountable edge in the conference race at only the halfway point of the conference season.

Here's the Oakland Tribune game story from Cal's loss on Wednesday.

Our four-person coverage from Maples: A game story, sidebar, notes and Greg Hansen's column, and a photo gallery.

Here's the official box score.

Sportswriter for the Arizona Daily Star covering Arizona Wildcats basketball