Washington coach Lorenzo Romar illustrated it best when describing Arizona’s defense.
“Once they get back and they’re set, you have all these panthers back there and they’re ready to pounce, these Dobermans,” he said. “That makes it a little more difficult to score.”
If anyone is going to beat the No.1-ranked Wildcats, that team is going to have to be able to score in transition before Arizona gets a chance to set its defense. Just ask Stanford, which was held scoreless for nearly nine minutes during a critical second-half stretch of its 60-57 defeat Wednesday at Maples Pavilion.
Or better yet, ask Romar.
“First and foremost, you’ve gotta find a way to score,” Romar said before Washington’s 71-62 defeat at McKale Center on Jan. 4. “They’re so good defensively, they’re so long, they protect the rim so well, they have 6-8, 6-6, 6-7 guys and they have a big guy in the middle.”
Arizona allows 56.7 points per game, which ranks fourth in the nation.
THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Stanford had Arizona on the ropes and led by seven (51-44) with 12:34 left. After Josh Huestis drained a three-pointer with 9:58 remaining, the Cardinal didn’t score again until Dwight Powell converted a reverse layup to tie the score at 55-55 at the 1:21 mark.
— Powell was saddled in foul trouble most of the second half, but he finished with 13 points along with Huestis who also had 11 rebounds. Chasson Randle was 3 of 15 from the field for 12 points – 7 below his scoring average – while Stefan Nastic had 10 for the Cardinal (13-7, 4-4).
— Nick Johnson, the favorite to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award, outscored Stanford 5-2 over the final 81 seconds, including a big go-ahead three-pointer and two clinching free throws with five seconds left. T.J. McConnell had 11 points and eight assists while Brandon Ashley added 10 points.
— Arizona (21-0, 8-0) is one of three unbeaten teams in the country – Syracuse and Wichita State are the others – but there’s no question who is No. 1 in the nation.
— Jermaine Marshall scored 22 points, including a three-pointer with 17.7 seconds left to force overtime, and Jahii Carson tallied 11 points of his game-high 29 points in the extra period to lead Arizona State to an 89-78 win over California.
— The Golden Bears (14-7, 5-3) lost its third straight game. Cal started slow and never got it going until the end of second half. The Bears trailed by 16 in the second half, however, Justin Cobbs (21 points) gave the Bears a 70-69 lead with 44.8 seconds left. After Marshall tied it, Cobbs had a chance at a game-winner and missed a 19-footer. Cal was outscored 17-6 in OT. Tyrone Wallace scored 20 points.
— Oregon senior point guard Johnathan Loyd broke his nose during Tuesday’s practice and it’s uncertain whether he’ll play Thursday against UCLA.
— During Saturday’s game, Oregon will distribute Phil Knight bobbleheads with an inscription that reads: “Thank You Uncle Phil.”
— Oregon State has problems during the second halves of games.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
UCLA (16-4, 5-2) at Oregon (14-5, 2-5), 6 p.m. …………… ESPN2
USC (10-10, 1-6) at Oregon State (11-8, 3-4), 6 p.m. …….. Pac-12 Networks
Picks: UCLA and OSU
Pac-12 tally: 31-14
Season tally: 128-37