Stanford-Arizona Preview

Arizona is one win away from going unbeaten at home for the second time in four seasons.

The third-ranked Wildcats can do so Sunday evening and clinch the outright Pac-12 crown if they defeat Stanford for the ninth straight meeting.

Arizona (26-2, 13-2) has won 20 straight at home, including all 17 this season after going 17-0 at the McKale Center in 2010-11.

"It would be foolish for us to talk about that with our team," coach Sean Miller said. "It’s just about being ready for Stanford. And if we’re able to do that, I think it would be an accomplishment that we would be very proud of."

The Wildcats are the conference’s only ranked team, and have a three-game lead with three to play over second-place UCLA. The Bruins host Oregon State on Sunday.

Arizona avenged its first loss of the season with Wednesday’s 87-59 rout of California, but insisted that payback wasn’t a motivation.

"We’re trying to do one thing, we’re trying to win the league championship, and we’ve got to take it game by game," said Nick Johnson, who scored a game-high 22 points.

The Wildcats have been impressive in winning by an average of 27.5 points in the last two contests of their three-game win streak. They won 88-61 at Colorado last Saturday.

"The fact that we won at Colorado, and then on the heels of that were able to beat a very good Cal team makes us feel good about that knowing that Sunday we might even have a bigger challenge with Stanford," Miller said.

Miller may be concerned because Stanford (18-9, 9-6) could use a high-profile victory to boost its NCAA tournament chances. The Cardinal nearly got one when they hosted the Wildcats on Jan. 29, falling 60-57.

Johnson was the hero with a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 51 seconds left in a tight defensive battle in which Arizona shot 36.0 percent and Stanford finished at 37.5.

"For 38 minutes, I thought we were right there," said Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins about the loss. "Credit Arizona for making the plays they had to make at the end."

The Wildcats could be a tougher opponent now after shooting 55.4 percent over their last two games. They have been outstanding all season defensively, ranking among the nation’s best teams in limiting opponents to 38.1 percent from the field.

"As our offense gets better, we can’t lose the fact that our defense has been there from day one," Miller said. "If we keep our defense where it’s been and continue to add offensively, I think that’s the big upside that we have."

Stanford had a three-game win streak snapped Wednesday with a 76-64 loss at Arizona State. The backcourt of Anthony Brown and Chasson Randle combined for 38 points but the rest of the Cardinal shot 26.7 percent.

The Wildcats did a good job of clamping down on those guards in the first matchup, as Brown and Randle totaled 19 points on 6-of-24 shooting.

This contest represents the last chance for Stanford senior starting forwards Josh Huestis and Dwight Powell to beat Arizona, barring a postseason meeting. They are 0-5 versus the Wildcats – the only conference team they have never beaten.