Arizona looks to bounce back from Oregon debacle as Stanford visits
Ninth-ranked Arizona is coming off its most-lopsided loss in eight years, which doesn’t have to be a bad thing, coach Sean Miller said.
“I don’t think one game is all of a sudden going to strip us of our confidence or ruin what we’ve built,” Miller said of Saturday’s 85-58 loss at No. 5 Oregon.
“But when you get beat as bad as we got beat, you certainly worry about it. We don’t want any carryover from the last game to the next game, and if we do have any carryover, we want it to be the lessons learned — the good carryover.”
Arizona (21-3, 10-1 Pac-12) carries on against Stanford on Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats won the first meeting of the season, 91-52, on Jan. 1, to extend their winning streak over the Cardinal (12-11, 4-7) to 14 games.
Arizona shot 62.5 percent while holding Stanford to 33.9 percent.
“We’ve seen improvement from them through the course of the season,” Miller said of Stanford. “They are better right now than when we played them for the first time. I don’t know if the score of that game is indicative of the two teams.”
The loss to Oregon dropped the Wildcats into a first-place tie with the Ducks in the Pac-12.
Stanford ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with an 81-75 home victory over Utah. Forward Reid Travis, powerful in the low block and as a face-up post player, scored 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
“Reid was very, very good,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “Bottom line: He was very aggressive. He’s very talented and very tough in finishing those plays.”
The Cardinal forced 17 turnovers against the Utes, which is one thing that has Miller worried. Arizona committed 19 turnovers in the first meeting. Stanford’s conference opponents’ commit a league-high 15.7 turnovers per game.
Arizona will try to get freshman 7-footer Lauri Markkanen back on track. He averages a team-best 15.9 points per game but scored only 12 on 2-of-11 shooting during last week’s road trip to the Oregon schools.
Miller said his players have to be more intent on finding Markkanen, while the coaches will be looking to get him more involved in the low post and high post, making sure he’s not just a 3-point specialist.
“No matter how great a shooter you are, if you’re only relying on perimeter jump shots, there are going to be those games where they take that away from you,” Miller said.
Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is averaging 14.2 points in five games since his return from an NCAA suspension. The Wildcats usually have plenty of scoring balance, with center Dusan Ristic (11.8), wing Rawle Alkins (11.8), guard Kobi Simmons (11.3) and guard Kadeem Allen (9.7).
For Stanford, Reid averages 16.7 points and guard Dorian Pickens is at 12.3 points, in addition to being the team’s best 3-point shooter (37.8 percent).
The Cardinal doesn’t have the shooting firepower to scorch the nets against Arizona like Oregon did (16 made 3-pointers), but it found a good mindset the last time out.
“We competed,” Haase said. “And that has to be where it starts every game.”