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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Arizona overcomes adversity to defeat Stanford 89-82

Lauren Dyer
Stanford Men’s Basketball loses game against U of Arizona

After a couple disappointing losses in recent weeks, Arizona men’s basketball is playing its best ball of the season. The No. 7 Wildcats (17-2, 5-1 Pac-12 Conference) battled through a host of adversity to defeat Stanford 89-82 for, arguably, their best road win of the season.

After losing the game that was for a share of first place in the conference, the Cardinal, at 13-5 and 4-2, is clearly the third-best team in the conference. No. 12 Utah (15-3, 5-1), which Arizona beat 69-51 last Saturday, is the other team in first place.

While the Wildcats have now beaten Stanford 10 times in a row, it was the Cardinal’s first home loss of the year. Stanford had won three in a row and seven of its last eight. In its last game, the Cardinal beat the defending national champions, UConn, 72-59.

The Wildcats have come a long way since losing to a mediocre UNLV team on Festivus. Stanford defeated the Runnin’ Rebels by 29 points in November, by the way.

Actually, Arizona has come a long way since losing a 58-56 shocker at Oregon State right before the semester started. Sure, the Beavers are 11-0 at home, but this Arizona team would handily defeat them nine times out of 10 anywhere, from McKale Center to Corvallis, Ore., to the moon.

Arizona defeated Stanford despite insane foul trouble. Backup center Dusan Ristic fouled out, starting forward Brandon Ashley had four fouls, starting center Kaleb Tarczewski picked up four fouls and forward Stanley Johnson ended with three. The UA was called for 23 fouls in total.

It’s hard to have any rhythm, much less win, when your entire frontcourt is afraid to touch someone out of fear of fouling out.
On the other side, Stanford had five players with four fouls and 28 total, though that was after it started sending Arizona to the free-throw line late when the Wildcats were pulling away.

The tweet of the night belongs to Daily Wildcat sports reporter Ezra Amacher, who said:
“If I filtered refs out of my timeline, there would be nothing left on Twitter.”
Amacher covers UA women’s hoops, so he’s used to basketball that’s difficult to watch.

The officials made a mockery of the game, and yet, the Wildcats persevered. Being able to face and overcome adversity like this makes Arizona a team that could go a long way in March.

Late in the game, the UA went on a 9-0 run to make the lead insurmountable. The run started once seldom-used forward Matt Korcheck scored four points. Coming into the game, Korcheck was averaging one point and 2.6 minutes per game.

Korcheck was so important to the run that his name was a trending topic on Twitter.

As Drake says, he started from the bottom, now he’s here.

The bad news about the UA’s win was that Tarczewski continued his recent struggles, recording five points and three rebounds, and his backup, Ristic, had zero points and two rebounds. With four points and two rebounds, Korcheck was almost as good as Arizona’s twin towers.

Ashley scored 17 points, two behind the UA’s leading scorer Johnson, who was the first Wildcat to get into foul trouble.

While Johnson continues to break out, Arizona will probably need quality minutes from its big men if it wants to continue its three-game winning streak at California, which features one the league’s best players.

Cal comes in with an ugly record, but it is tough to beat at home. Last year, it snapped Arizona’s 21-game win streak to open the season. This year, Cal beat Washington at home to open up the Pac-12 season. The Huskies have fallen on hard times since, but, at the time, were ranked 11-1 and ranked No. 21 overall.

Forward David Kravish began his senior season with 177 career blocks — ranking him second in school history — 687 career rebounds and 893 career points. In Pac-12 history, the other three in that exclusive club are Arizona’s Anthony Cook (1985-1989) and Channing Frye (2001-2005), and USC’s Taj Gibson (2006-2009).

With Utah and Stanford in the rearview mirror and the Wildcats playing so well, the next few weeks look very nice for Arizona.
After Cal, the UA hosts the Oregon schools and then travels to ASU, its easiest road trip. Arizona could easily be 21-2 overall and 9-1 in conference play heading into its Washington trip.

Knock on wood — or tree — but after their impressive win at Stanford, the Wildcats seem poised to grab that No. 1 seed in the west again.


Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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