SportsMen's Basketball

Men’s basketball falls short in Arizona upset bid

March 3, 2022, 11:00 p.m.

Stanford men’s basketball (15-14, 8-11 Pac-12) took on No. 2 Arizona (27-3, 17-2 Pac-12) Thursday night in Tucson, Ariz. Despite holding a halftime lead, the Cardinal fell to the Wildcats 81-69. 

After losing their first meeting against Arizona this season 85-75, the Cardinal were looking for redemption. Junior forward Spencer Jones started off strong with a pair of baskets to give the Cardinal an early 5-2 lead but was forced to the bench after committing two fouls. 

The teams traded buckets for a few minutes before a 10-0 Stanford run — which included eight straight points from sophomore guard Michael O’Connell — gave Stanford a 22-15 lead.

Despite the early foul trouble for Jones, as well as for sophomore forward Brandon Angel and freshman forwards Harrison Ingram and Maxime Raynaud, the Cardinal were able to maintain the lead for the remainder of the half. They would enter the break with a 39-37 advantage.

The first half was unexpectedly successful for a Cardinal team that was coming off of their worst offensive performance of the season against Cal last Saturday, in which they only scored 12 first-half points. O’Connell single handedly eclipsed this total, scoring 16 first-half points and going 4-for-4 from three against the Wildcats. He and Jones combined for 26 of the Cardinal’s 39 points in the first half, shooting a combined 10-for-13 from the field. 

The duo’s scoring flurry gave Stanford its first halftime lead versus a top-5 opponent since its 2018 bout with No. 2 Kansas. Jones’ hot hand carried over into the second half, and he ultimately finished the game with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting. O’Connell, however, was held scoreless after halftime.

The game remained close to start the second half as the two teams exchanged blows. Stanford went on a 6-0 run to take a 54-51 lead, but Arizona immediately responded with an 8-0 run of its own. The score stayed within one possession for most of the second half, but with about eight minutes remaining, the Wildcats began to pull away. 

Arizona gained a significant advantage at the free throw line. Whereas Stanford only converted on two of its nine free throw attempts, the Wildcats knocked down 22 of their 27 shots. 

Arizona center Christian Koloko, one of 15 finalists for the Naimish Defensive Player of the Year Award, proved to be too much to handle for the Cardinal. The junior finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin scored a game-high 24 points for the Wildcats.

The Cardinal will look to return to the win column as they head to Tempe, Ariz. to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils (13-16, 9-0 Pac-12) in their regular season finale. 

Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. PT on Saturday.

Drew Silva is a writer for the sports section. He is a sophomore from Pawtucket, Rhode Island studying computer science and symbolic systems. In his free time, he enjoys watching News Managing Editor Tammer Bagdasarian play blackjack. You can find him watching NFL Redzone on Sundays.

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