stanford (18-9, 9-6) at No. 3 Arizona (26-2, 13-2) • McKale Center • 6 p.m. today • ESPNU
G T.J. McConnell (6-1 junior)
G Jordin Mayes (6-3 senior)
F Nick Johnson (6-3 junior)
F Aaron Gordon (6-9 freshman)
C Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 sophomore)
G Chasson Randle (6-2 Junior)
G Anthony Brown (6-6 junior)
F Josh Huestis (6-7 senior)
F Dwight Powell (6-10 senior)
C Stefan Nastic (6-11 junior)
HOW THEY MATCH UP
• The last time: Arizona won the last of its school-record 21 straight games to start the season in a 60-57 victory over Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Jan. 29. Stanford out-rebounded UA 38-36 in a game that featured 11 lead changes. Nick Johnson hit a jumper, a three-pointer and two free throws in the final 2:36 to keep the Cats perfect.
• What’s new with the Cardinal: Stanford put itself in position for a top-four finish in the Pac-12, which would give it a bye in the conference tournament, with an 83-74 win over UCLA last weekend. But it suffered a 12-point loss at ASU on Wednesday when Chasson Randle fouled out with 7:11 left and ASU’s Jahii Carson scored 26 points. The Cardinal has pulled off wins in the second game of conference road trips three times after losing the first game this season.
Stanford — Dwight Powell
Arizona limited Stanford’s skilled, mobile big man to 13 points and six rebounds last month in part because of foul trouble, but he’s always a dangerous threat inside. He’s also recovered from a head injury against USC on Feb. 20 that required three stitches.
Arizona — T.J. McConnell
A major reason UA pulled out a close win at Stanford last month was the nearly flawless play of its point guard, who had 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists — with no turnovers.
HE SAID IT
“They have three guys (Powell, Josh Huestis and Randle) who are all huge for them. Powell, to me, is the best NBA prospect in the league. Randle is the (second-best) scorer in the Pac-12, and Huestis is a prototypical NBA three. They play really well in the open court.”
— UA assistant coach Book Richardson, who scouted the Cardinal
CATS NEED TO STAY CALM
For the second time in the Sean Miller era, the Wildcats will have a chance to snip the nets today and claim an outright Pac-12 championship if they beat Stanford. Oregon’s win over UCLA on Thursday already clinched a share of the conference title for the Wildcats.
“It’s something that every team in our position would covet, and we’re the same,” Miller said Saturday. “We recognize what we have (Sunday). It’s important.”
At the same time, Miller was hesitant to get too far ahead because of the Wildcats’ opponent — and because of themselves.
“It’s so important that we be who we are, that we come out with energy and that we don’t make the game any bigger than it needs to be,” Miller said. “Because when you do that, you have a way of not being yourself.”
Stanford also has plenty on the line today.
The Cardinal needs a win to stay with Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State among the top four teams in the Pac-12, which would earn them a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
While Stanford is also likely to be in the NCAA tournament field, a win today could move it firmly away from the dreaded 8-9 bracket, where the first-game winner is likely to face a No. 1 in its second game.
But Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins indicated he isn’t calculating all that.
“We just want to be playing well down the stretch,” he said. “If that leads you to the top three or four, great. We just want to keep getting better. That’s been our thing the whole game long.”
BACK AND FORTH
The Pac-12’s media rights deal continues to prove lucrative for charter airline firms. Because Stanford was scheduled to play at ASU on Wednesday and not at UA until today, the Cardinal flew home directly after Wednesday’s game, attended two days of class and then flew to Tucson on Friday night.
They then practiced at UA on Saturday.
Dawkins wasn’t complaining.
“We got home and landed about 1 a.m. (Thursday) but our kids were able to go to class,” Dawkins said.
“We still got here a day early, and we have all day (Saturday).”
8 Straight wins by UA over Stanford
13 Pac-10/12 championships Arizona has won or shared. The Wildcats can win the title outright for the 11th time with a win today over the Cardinal.
23.8 Randle’s career shooting percentage against Arizona over three games
Compiled by Bruce Pascoe