No. 4 Arizona strives to stay hot, faces Stanford

No. 4 Arizona, riding a seven-game winning streak that has coincided with a lineup change, will try to keep the momentum going when the Wildcats visit Stanford in Pac-12 play on Saturday.

It will be the only meeting of the season between Arizona (22-3, 11-3 Pac-12) and the Cardinal (10-14, 4-9).

While the Wildcats continue to surge, Stanford will be trying to pick itself up after Thursday night’s tough home loss to Arizona State. The Sun Devils finished on a 14-2 run and held the Cardinal scoreless in the final 4:05 as they prevailed 69-65. Stanford has lost two consecutive games after winning five in a row.

Arizona is coming off an 85-62 victory at California on Thursday in which Azuolas Tubelis resumed his All-America pace with 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Pelle Larsson continued to shine off the bench. He scored 16 points, including a 3-of-3 shooting effort from 3-point range.

Larsson started the first 18 games of the season at the wing, but Lloyd switched things up after a loss at Oregon on Jan. 14. Larsson is averaging 10.3 points and shooting 52.3 percent (23 of 44) in the past seven games, reprising his high-energy role from last season, when he earned Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year honors.

“Pelle is a good basketball player,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said after the Cal game. “I was telling everybody maybe he is one of these slow starters and strong finishers, and the way he’s starting to shoot the ball now and get to the basket. He’s a really good player.”

Larsson’s long-range shooting has been a missing piece to his arsenal since he hit 46.3 percent of his 3-point attempts at Utah as a freshman. He dropped to 36.3 percent last season at Arizona and is only at 31 percent (22 of 71) this season.

Stanford’s loss to Arizona State was especially a bitter pill, not only because embattled coach Jerod Haase could use all the victories he can get, but because the Cardinal now begins a brutal three-game stretch – Arizona, followed by a road trip to UCLA and Southern California.

“Our team has been phenomenal this year in terms of being steady, coming to practice prepared,” Haase said. “We’ve had very few highs and lows in terms of not being mentally locked in. Certainly, I think they will be excited for Arizona to come in. If history tells me anything, our guys will be ready to battle.”

Stanford is led in scoring by Spencer Jones (13.5 points per game). Michael Jones and Harrison Ingram are each at 9.6.

Arizona’s inside combination of Tubelis (20.9 points, 9.7 rebounds per game) and Oumar Ballo (15.0, 9.0) have been difficult for most opponents to handle. Point guard Kerr Kriisa, who is third in scoring at 10.6 points per game, went scoreless against Cal, missing seven shots but dishing eight assists.

Lloyd said Kriisa had been “pretty sick” for three or four days before the game. “For him to come out and give us the minutes he did was awesome,” Lloyd said.

Arizona ripped off a 19-game winning streak against Stanford from March 2009 to February 2020. Stanford then won two in a row, although the Wildcats have won the past three meetings – all last season, including in the Pac-12 tournament, in Lloyd’s first year.

–Field Level Media

FLM Direct-Baller

Field Level Media was founded by sports media executives with more than 40 years of combined experience working with the most influential media companies in the industry.

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