Stanford left its consciousness in Palo Alto. On Wednesday morning, Stanford erased a double-digit deficit with 2 minutes remaining and won on a broken play buzzer-beater.
On Thursday, Stanford (16–16) (8–12) had nothing to lose and played like a team well aware. They came up just short. In the end, Arizona’s calmness outweighed the Cardinal’s overzealousness and hot shooting.
A sea of Arizona red and blue flooded the arena, but the Stanford band lived up to its name. They audibly dominated the crowd’s noise and propelled their team’s overachieving performance.
They chanted obscenities as the Wildcats shot free throws and it worked. The Wildcats were 11–17 from the line, but they made up for that porous mark shooting 48% from the field.
Behind Christian Koloko’s 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, the Wildcats (29–3) (18–2) beat the Cardinal 84–80.
As they’ve done all season, the Wildcats slowed the tempo and let Koloko and Benedict Mathurin decide the outcome of the game. Koloko flew all over the court and seemed to get better at cleaning up the Wildcats’ misses as the game progressed. He had six offensive rebounds.
Koloko cut through the teeth of the defense to grab an entry pass before slamming home the game-sealing basket with 26 seconds remaining.
Mathurin complimented Koloko’s paint presence, nicely. Mathurin plays with a natural swagger and had the performance to back it up.
He used strong punch dribbles to create space in the mid-range, but his ability to get in position for offensive rebounds and putbacks was equally impressive. The 6-foot-6 guard had 7 rebounds and 20 points.
The Wildcats’ 16 offensive rebounds helped propel them to victory — but it didn’t come without a fight from Stanford
Spencer Jones, especially.
Jones showed that yesterday’s offensive breakout of 26 points was no fluke. When it matters most, he is that guy. Jones dropped in cold-blooded jumpers one after another, and from various spots on the court. He matched his point total from Wednesday by the 12-minute mark of the second half.
He was held to only 2 points the rest of the way, however.
Pelle Larsson took on the role of face-guarding Jones. Jones expended more energy just to get the ball than actually create his shot and that led to an uninspiring final-10 minutes from the field.
Ultimately, Jones’ 28 points on the 12-of-18 shooting weren’t enough to get the job done. His step lost its pep towards the end and Stanford’s secondary options couldn’t match the well-oiled machine that is the №2 team in the country.
Arizona seemingly locked up a №1 seed for the March Madness tournament with the victory. They will play the winner of Colorado versus Oregon on Friday.