The Arizona Wildcats began Pac-12 conference play with a 67-62 road win over the California Golden Bears on Friday, and now they’ll go for the Bay Area sweep Sunday afternoon against the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto — a New Year’s Day battle.
The Wildcats (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) started off slow against the Bears, trailing 19-6 midway through the first half, but used a strong second half to escape Berkeley with the victory.
Dusan Ristic led Arizona with 16 points, while Kobi Simmons scored 14 points and Lauri Markkanen had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
For Ristic, it was the seventh time in the last eight games he scored in double figures. During that span, the 7-footer is averaging 13.8 points per game while shooting 64 percent from the field.
The Wildcats also welcomed back Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who had missed the team’s last six games with a high ankle sprain. The point guard played 20 minutes off the bench and dished out four assists without committing a turnover.
Jackson-Cartwright now has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 41 to 11 this season. Arizona as a team only committed eight turnovers against Cal, which was its lowest output since Nov. 21’s win over Northern Colorado.
Jackson-Cartwright’s impact was immediate and his mobility, which Sean Miller was primarily worried about, didn’t look hindered.
Meanwhile, Allonzo Trier missed his 14th game Friday, and his return date remains unknown.
The Stanford Cardinal (8-5, 0-1 Pac-12) enter Sunday’s game coming off a 98-93 loss to ASU in their Pac-12 opener.
Marcus Sheffield scored 35 points on 11-15 shooting for the Cardinal and Reid Travis added 21 points and eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a home loss.
The Sun Devils shot 51 percent from the field and 52 percent from 3 against the Cardinal.
KenPom rates Stanford as the No. 87 team in the country, with the 133rd-best offense and the 66th-best defense.
Travis and Dorian Pickens are Stanford’s two leading scorers. Travis — who also leads the Cardinal in rebounding — averages 18.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 forward does all of his damage inside the arc, and is shooting 58.2 percent from the field this season, plus 69 percent from the free throw line where he takes an average of 8.7 attempts per game.
Travis has had some monster games this season, including a 29-point, eight-rebound outing against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Unlike Travis, Pickens thrives on the perimeter. The 6-foot-5 guard from Phoenix is averaging 13.5 points per game this season, while shooting 44.1 percent from 3. As a team, the Cardinal only shoot 31 percent from behind the arc, but Pickens is the team’s most lethal shooter.
Sheffield did sink four 3s against ASU though, and anytime a player is capable is scoring 35 points in a game, he should be on a defense’s radar as well.
The Cardinal rebound the ball well, particularly on the defensive end on the floor. Stanford has the 15th-best defensive rebounding percentage of the country, allowing opponents to grab only 23.6 percent of their misses.
Generating quality looks might be an issue for Stanford against Arizona, as the Wildcats are equipped with the nation’s 17th-best defense, while the Cardinal offense has scuffled this season.
In general, the Cardinal have struggled against the Wildcats in recent years. Arizona has won 13 straight games against Stanford, with the Cardinal’s last win transpiring in January 2009 (Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill were on Arizona’s roster. So, yeah, that’s kind of a long time).
How to watch
Time: 6 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Network
Live stream: Pac-12 Live
Announcers: Guy Haberman & Don MacLean
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