Arizona won its third straight game for the first time this season and, like everything else, it wasn’t easy.
While finishing with a 76-68 win over Stanford tonight at McKale Center, the Wildcats repeatedly built double-digit leads against the Cardinal, which was picked to finish last in the Pac-10.
But they never could completely put away Stanford’s dual threats of Landry Fields and Jeremy Green. Fields had 31 points and 11 rebounds, while Green added 25 points, and together they made UA sweat it out until the final seconds.
UA led 68-56 with 2:31 to go, but Fields and Green combined for eight points to pull Stanford within 68-64 with over a minute to go, and then Green stuck a three-pointer with 22 seconds left to pull Stanford within 71-67.
The Wildcats also did not have center Derrick Williams on the floor in the final minutes.
It wasn’t until Nic Wise was then sent to the line, coming up with three free throws to put UA up 72-67, that the Wildcats were in control for good. Wise missed the second of two attempts from the line but rebounded his own miss, was fouled, and hit two more free throws for the five-point lead.
The win improved Arizona to 11-9 overall and 5-3 in the Pac-10, giving the Wildcats a shot at first place on Sunday against California in the final game of the conference’s first half.
Stanford dropped to 10-10 and 4-4.
UA shot just 32.8-percent from the field but forced 18 Stanford turnovers and outrebounded the Cardinal 38-24. The Wildcats had 19 offensive rebounds.
Arizona was led by Williams, who had 23 points and eight rebounds, while Kyle Fogg added 15 points and five rebounds.
UA went on a 14-7 run midway through the second half to take a 58-47 but could not keep Fields away. Fields hit two free throws and a three-pointer to cut UA’s lead to 61-55 with six minutes left.
Early in the second half, UA kept Stanford without a field goal for the first four minutes, allowing it to overcome a missed dunk and three-pointer by Jamelle Horne early in the half.
The Wildcats built a 44-34 lead before Stanford cut it to 44-40 on a three-pointer by Green with 15:08 left.
But Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins was whistled for a technical with just over 12 minutes to go, leading to a five-point swing for the Wildcats.
Wise hit both ensuing foul shots while Fogg made a three-pointer after UA retained possession to give UA a 49-40 lead. Horne then picked up a loose ball along the baseline and fired it to Williams, who dunked for a 51-40 lead.
In the first half, Arizona went on an 8-0 run late in the first half en route to a 37-33 halftime lead.
The Wildcats recovered from early shooting troubles that allowed Stanford to take an early 20-15 lead. UA finished the half shooting 36.1 percent from the field while Stanford hit an even 50 percent.
Fields led Stanford in the first half with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, having his way with UA defenders.
Arizona put together four straight three-point possessions toward the end of the second half that triggered an 8-0 run. Horne hit a three-pointer, Brendon Lavender hit two three-pointers and Williams converted a three-point play.
Williams’ play gave UA a 33-28 lead while MoMo Jones then scored along the baseline to put UA up 35-28 before Stanford trimmed the lead in the final two minutes.
Horne’s three-pointer from the left corner with 4:10 left in the first half pulled the Wildcats into a 24-24 tie.
Until then, Arizona had nearly every momentum swing altered by Fields, who moved around and shot over defenders such as Solomon Hill and Horne.
Fields drove inside for a layup to give Stanford a 20-15 lead with nine minutes left.
Arizona raced to a 9-3 lead, and kept the Cardinal to just a three-pointer from Green over the first four minutes. But Fields scored five points during Stanford's 7-3 run early in the second half to give the a 10-9 lead with 14 minutes left.
UA made just three of its first 12 shots from the field.