Mayhem at Maples: Men’s basketball upsets No. 4 Arizona

Feb. 12, 2023, 4:51 p.m.

The Stanford men’s basketball team (11-14, 5-9 Pac-12) tallied their first win against a ranked opponent this season on Saturday, defeating the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats (22-4, 11-4 Pac-12) 88-79 with a terrific second-half defensive performance. After back-to-back conference losses, Saturday’s win could spur a run down the stretch of the season as the Cardinal have won six of their past eight. This is Stanford’s first home win against Arizona at Maples Pavilion since 2009, as well as the Cardinal’s second top-five victory in as many years. 

In the first half, Stanford was able to jump out to a one-to-two possession lead thanks to a balanced scoring effort from the entire starting lineup. However, the Wildcats were able to claw their way back into the game with the 3-point shooting of guard Courtney Ramey and others. At the 9:20 mark, Arizona held a 24-19 lead over the Cardinal. 

But the lead swings would continue into halftime, with both teams having stretches of brilliant play. Stanford went on a 9-2 run to chip away at Arizona’s five-point lead, but promptly after, the Wildcats pieced together a 13-0 run of their own, catalyzed by a sequence of Cardinal turnovers and more 3-point shooting. Arizona went 8-for-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, with Ramey knocking down four. Yet, the Cardinal were able to accumulate some timely points down the stretch in order to cut the Wildcats’ advantage to 44-41 at halftime. 

A balanced Stanford scoring attack was led by sophomore center Maxime Raynaud’s 9 points, sophomore forward Harrison Ingram’s eight points and junior guard Michael O’Connell’s 8 points. Meanwhile, Arizona’s scoring remained lopsided with Ramey tallying 14 points, and the second leading scorer, Pelle Larson, accumulating eight. 

However, most notably, Stanford was able to limit the effectiveness of Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo, who each were held to single digits. 

“The truth is most teams can’t take away everything,” said head coach Jerod Haase. “So we had a plan of how we would try to protect the paint and try to protect inside. Honestly, one of the byproducts of that plan ended up being 35 3-point attempts by them.”

As the second half got underway, the Cardinal remained within striking distance of the Wildcats, trailing by just two possessions in the first four minutes. Even though Ramey continued his prolific perimeter shooting from the first half, Stanford went tit-for-tat with the Wildcats, particularly senior forward Spencer Jones, who began to assert himself more offensively. Jones’ mid-range pullup with 12:09 remaining gave Stanford its first lead since the 3:06 mark in the first half.

“I could tell early on their game plan was trying to not let me get the ball,” Jones said. “But in the second half, I knew I was gonna have to put up a performance to maintain our lead in this game.”

A tug-of-war promptly ensued, as both teams were unable to pull away from the other with just under ten minutes remaining. After Arizona held a 66-63 lead with 7:35 remaining, Stanford mustered together enough offensive firepower to stymie Arizona’s momentum. The Cardinal were able to corral key offensive rebounds, which directly led to second-chance points. O’Connell’s 3-pointer with 3:28 left on the clock extended Stanford’s lead to 10 points. The Wildcats began to press in order to cause the Cardinal to turn the ball over, but were unable to get any loose balls, instead sending Stanford to the free-throw line. Both O’Connell and Angel were able to clinch the game for the Cardinal at the line, and the Wildcats’ attempt to flip the contest in their favor came up short. 

“At the end of the day, the message to the team was it was a big game because it was today’s game,” Haase said. “We’ve talked all year about making progress, all the cliches you want to throw out there, we lived those things.”

Stanford has another difficult task up next, as the Cardinal hits the road to take on UCLA (21-4, 12-2 Pac-12) in Los Angeles. The Bruins defeated Stanford earlier this season 80-66, so the Cardinal will be looking to split the season-series and exact revenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Kaushik Sampath is the sports managing editor. He is a junior from Fayetteville, Arkansas and a history major. You can catch him watching and ranting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks or hanging out with friends on campus. Contact him at sports 'at'

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