Stanford came to play Wednesday night in Tucson. Unfortunately, the Cardinal’s inside dominance wasn’t enough to overcome massive disparities behind the three-point line and at the foul line in a 74-67 Arizona win that still stands as one of the Cardinal’s best efforts of the season.
On a night where Stanford, powered by Reid Travis, totally dominated Arizona inside to the tune of a 42-16 advantage on points in the paint, +15 from behind the arc and +14 on an astounding 29 free throw attempts was enough for the Wildcats on a night where the Cardinal’s determination looked for a moment when it might be just enough.
Michael Humphrey secured an offensive rebound and then hit a cutting Marcus Allen for a layup which tied the game at 67. Arizona closed the game on a 7-0 run sparked by a huge Lauri Markannen three-pointer from the left corner. The Cardinal had come back from a 12-point deficit in the second half but just didn’t have enough for the finish.
Stanford’s coaching staff had the Cardinal in a 3-2 zone which helped the Cardinal mask its perimeter deficiencies and keep Arizona’s offense essentially out of the paint. Stanford used weakside guards to double team bigs and pack the paint on drives. The toll was the three-point shots Arizona made, but when compared to the dunkfest Arizona enjoyed at Maples in the teams’ first go-round, it was a price worth paying.
Nearly 50% of Arizona’s shots were three-pointers, whereas the Cardinal did a good job focusing on attacking all night long. Travis, as always, was the focal point and he bulldozed every Arizona big sent at him. Travis had 26 points on 11-19 shooting and added 11 rebounds. Marcus Allen also played another strong game, scoring 15 points on 6-12 shooting.
Arizona committed to double teaming Travis more frequently in the second half, and although that can’t necessarily be directly tied to the outcome, the Cardinal slowed down just enough in the second half for the Wildcats to get the win.
Stanford moves on to Tempe on Saturday night for a rematch with Arizona State. Nobody on the team invests too much in moral victories, but Stanford played a good game on Wednesday night. The question now becomes whether or not Stanford can take the next step and come home with a road split.