The combination of hustle plays from Matt Korcheck and timely baskets from Stanley Johnson helped propel Arizona to an 89-82 victory over Stanford at Roscoe Maples Pavilion Thursday night.
Korcheck, not even considered a rotation player going into this contest, was forced into action after the Wildcats were plagued with foul trouble midway through the second half. He didn’t disappoint Arizona Coach Sean Miller. His high intensity, awareness on both ends and willingness to take key shots helped Arizona take control of this game.
Both Arizona and Stanford were in attack mode in the early going. Arizona showed its offensive depth in the first half but Stanford countered with its high volume offense. The Wildcats saw yet another zone defense tonight in which their opponent intended to expose their unreliable perimeter shooting.
Stanley Johnson hit two big threes to start the first half. Brandon Ashley, who had Arizona’s first six points of the game, picked up his second foul with 16:17 left in the first half. Arizona was mired in foul trouble due to inconsistent whistles. Gabe York hit a pair of threes to open up the game in the first half. However, Chasson Randle scored 14 points to give the Cardinal a 41-39 lead at halftime.
Johnson would not let this one get away helping to lift his team in the second half. He connected on threes and made critical isolation baskets down the stretch. Arizona played patient offense and worked it into the interior as its main forward trio took advantage of offensive opportunities.
Arizona shot an efficient 55.6 percent tonight. Although both teams had 7 offensive rebounds, Arizona’s came at the right time. Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson both finished at the rim and capitalized on second chance opportunities. Ashley had 17 points with two offensive rebounds and Hollis-Jefferson finished with 12 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Stanford’s star player Randle did score 27 points but the Wildcats made him work for each basket. It would be an understatement to say Sean Miller’s defense fatigued Randle just a bit. The Cardinal showed impressive ball movement throughout the game which led to eight made threes.
At the end, Arizona’s size, depth, talent and athleticism were too much for Stanford. Arizona ties Utah for best conference record at 5-1 with the win while Stanford drops to 4-2 in conference play.