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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Hoops claims rare Bay Area sweep

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat Arizona senior guard Brendon Lavender shushes the crowd late in the second half of the Arizona Wildcats match-up against the Stanford Cardinal in Maples Pavilion on Saturday, February 4, 2012. The Wildcats went on to win 56-43

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Despite shooting only 38.3 percent and missing 10-of-25 free throws, Arizona held off Stanford 56-43 in Maples Pavilion on Saturday, capping a weekend sweep of the Bay Area schools.

Neither team got it going offensively, combining to shoot 34-for-110 from the field. But the Wildcats and their razor-thin seven-man rotation outlasted Stanford to move to 7-4 in Pac-12 play, good for third place in the conference.

“We came out, executed and got the W,” said UA junior forward Solomon Hill. “Our offense was terrible but we all just stayed with it. Some guys could have quit and called it in but we didn’t.”

Arizona persevered through foul trouble and free-throw shooting woes thanks to its stout defense that limited Stanford to 25.4 percent shooting. No Cardinal reached double figures scoring until Josh Owens knocked down two free throws with 4:48 remaining in the game.

“It was our defense tonight that allowed us to win a tough game on the road,” UA head coach Sean Miller after the game. “We were ready to play this game.”

While the Wildcats limited the Cardinal to 9-of-32 shooting in the first half to take a 24-23 lead into the locker room, it was that same defense which sparked a second-half run that led to Arizona’s victory.

After trading buckets for the majority of the second half, the Wildcats trailed 37-35 with 9:03 remaining. But Arizona then rattled off a 10-0 run to take a 45-37 lead, at the time tying it’s largest of the game.

During that 10-0 run the Wildcats forced the Cardinal into seven consecutive misses from the field, all while Arizona went 3-for-4 including three free throws and a 3-pointer from Brendon Lavender.

“I think Lav really stepped up for us this game,” freshman guard Nick Johnson said of Lavender, who finished with six points. “He had two key threes for us, one in the last four minute war.”

Thanks to Arizona’s timely scoring and the Wildcats’ tough defense, Stanford couldn’t muster up enough offense to threaten in crunch time and knock off UA. As Hill said, Arizona’s offense was “terrible” but it’s veterans stepped up when the Wildcats needed it most.

Kyle Fogg, Hill and Jesse Perry all scored in double figures and Hill and Perry combined for 15 rebounds. Johnson and Josiah Turner also combined for 14 boards as the Wildcats edged the much bigger Cardinal, 43-40 on the glass.

“That’s really an incredible stat for two freshman guards,” Miller said of Johnson and Turner’s rebounding effort.

Arizona has now handed Cal and Stanford their first home losses of the season in conference play. UA will carry this momentum into next weekend when it hosts Colorado and Utah on Thursday and Saturday, respectively as it inches toward the end of Pac-12 play.

“Nobody’s really dominant in the Pac-12 and we’re trying to take advantage of it,” Hill said.

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