Some thoughts as Stanford gets off to a great early start at Arizona. One of my best Stanford ’08 friends asks me what’s going to happen tonight. In turn, I ask for some key statistics. Can we shoot over 40 percent deep? How many assists do we have? And what’s our rebounding margin? The shooting has come on strong in games past, and the fire continues to burn tonight early as Aaron Bright goes on an 8-0 run all his own. Jumper, three pointer, three pointer, and Bright’s eight account for the difference at the first timeout.
16-minute timeout: Stanford 10, Arizona 2
Arizona makes a corner three but then helps the cause by missing a pair of free throws. Our opponents in league play are just 64 percent from the line, the best mark in the conference. Hey, finally, some luck going our way.
Chasson Randle misses an alley-oop layup, but the next possession, finds Josh Huestis for an easy dunk. Next possession, he does a great job to jump into contact and throw up a shot to get to the line. Then, after an airball Stanford three, Arizona senior Mark Lyons connects on three. Bright responds with a great, not good, but great pass after drawing three defenders, but Rosco Allen misses. Meanwhile, Josh Huestis, nearly averaging a double-double, has five rebounds already. Arizona uses their bulk – which our roster does not match – to get an easy bucket down low, but Bright responds with a three the very next possession. Bright then makes another great play on the dribble to create. He gets his guy on the ground with a great ball fake by halfcourt, dribbles to draw a crowd and then kicks out to Gage, who knocks down an open three. 20-14, Stanford. The Cardinal go zone, and are rewarded with an Arizona airball. Then Bright draws a foul at midcourt; this is easily the best we have seen him with the ball.
12-minute timeout: Stanford 20, Arizona 14
A game after putting up 19 assists to four turnovers, Stanford has five assists to nary a turnover. [Edit: Of course, we turn it over the very next possession. Jinx.] A game after shooting about 55 percent from deep, the Cardinal are 4-of-7 early. Aaron Bright has 11 on six shots.
John Gage gets backed down all too easily, but gets whistled on the play for, I don’t know, taking up matter. BS whistle, but Brandon Ashley misses the free throw – Arizona is 0-of-3 from the line now. The game then slows down but a few trends emerge:
Arizona continues to collect all too many offensive rebounds (five through 12 minutes, on a pace to threaten 20), but timely close-out defense and, of course, a Josh Huestis block, limit the Wildcat scoring. The Cats have five turnovers to our one.
John Gage misses two threes. He was due, after making something like 15 of his last 20 (approximate) to lead the conference at nearly 50 percent from deep.
Even when we’re not making field goals, we’re getting to the line. Dwight Powell makes two free throws and Randle adds one to keep the margin comfortable.
Eight-minute timeout: Stanford 23, Arizona 16
My kingdom for a whistle that goes Stanford’s way. Instead, it’s a block on Powell and two Brandon Ashley free throws. The game then gets really slow, as both teams go multiple minutes without a field goal. Powell evens the score with a foul drawn on Ashley and two free throws of his own, while Nick Johnson finally knocks down a jumper for Arizona, but not until the 4:26 mark. It’s a great testament to the Cardinal that they can continue to lead, visiting a top-ten team, despite the scoreless streak – and it speaks well to the Cardinal’s chances of making noise over the next month or two. Still, a basket right about now would be really nice.
Four-minute timeout: Stanford 25, Arizona 20
Dwight Powell gets a pass on his, ahem, creative shot attempts the last few times, since they were intended to and did draw Arizona fouls. He gets a pass on this exercise in creativity because, heck he made the shot from six feet out, but if basketball doesn’t work out, maybe the men’s gymnastics team could use a contortionist.
Arizona again gets a questionable whistle on Stanford – I am not one to normally complain, but Stanford is perhaps five points behind where they would be with neutral-court refereeing – but the Wildcats again miss one of the freebies, so the bite isn’t as big. Stanford is 7-of-8 and Arizona 3-of-7 from the line, and after a Mark Lyons three halves Arizona’s deficit, that more than accounts for the margin. A few minutes after a Powell turnover, Arizona goes coast to coast when Josh Huestis can’t clamp down on an admittedly tough pass, and after a Rosco Allen travel the subsequent possession, Arizona will have a shot at the halftime lead – in a half Stanford started ahead 10-2. But Solomon Hill’s three draws iron and the Cardinal are up at halftime, at top-ten Arizona, despite 8-of-27 (29 percent) shooting. The Cardinal are a most painful 4-of-16 inside the paint. Huestis and Randle are a combined 2-of-12. Will be interesting to see if the Stanford offense of the first 10 minutes or the second 10 minutes comes out after the break. Stay tuned…
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