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Second half surge powers Arizona men’s basketball past Stanford, avenging previous loss

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-stanford-cardinal-recap-final-score-highlights-stats-pac12-2024 Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few nights ago, Tommy Lloyd said watching Stanford on film made him uncomfortable. That discomfort was felt throughout a sold-out McKale Center during a first half that saw the Cardinal try their best to replicate the unconscious shooting numbers they put up on New Year’s Eve.

Good thing there’s two halves in college basketball.

No. 11 Arizona smothered Stanford over the final 20 minutes, erasing an 11-point halftime deficit and outscoring the Cardinal 48-26 en route to an 82-71 win Sunday night.

The victory avenged a 100-82 loss at Stanford on Dec. 31, improving Arizona to 10-0 in revenge games under Lloyd. It also gave the Wildcats (17-5, 8-3 Pac-12) a full game lead on the field for first place in the conference heading into the rigorous Rocky Mountain trip.

Caleb Love and Oumar Ballo had 18 points apiece, with Ballo adding 13 rebounds, two assists and two blocks and Love eight rebounds and seven assists, while Pelle Larsson had 17 and KJ Lewis 12 as the UA improved to 12-0 at McKale and beat Stanford (11-10, 6-5) at home for the 12th time in the last 13 visits.

Lewis, Jaden Bradley and Motiejus Krivas combined for 23 bench points combined to two for Stanford.

Arizona shot 47.7 percent for the game and 51.5 percent in the second half, with all 17 post-halftime baskets coming inside the arc. Stanford was just 9 of 32 after halftime, including 5 of 14 from 3, after making 9 of 18 3s in the first half. The Cardinal, who set a school record for 3s in a game in the last meeting with Arizona, is 30 of 58 from outside against the Wildcats this season.

Stanford’s Maxime Raynaud and Michael Jones combined for 50 points on 19-of-35 shooting, each making five 3s, but in the second half they were 5 of 17.

Down 45-34 at the half, Arizona opened the second half by doing something it hadn’t managed to accomplish in the opening 20 minutes: drive inside and get fouled. The Wildcats’ first 10 points came in the paint, including a pair of 3-point plays by Ballo to get within 47-44 with 17:04 remaining.

Stanford began the second half missing 15 of 18 shots, allowing Arizona to go on a 13-0 run to lead 59-52 with 9:39 to go. That included two baskets by Lewis, one a dunk and the other a layup on a give-and-go with Pelle Larsson after a Lewis steal.

The Cardinal didn’t get to double digits in second-half scoring until Brandon Angel made two free throws with 8:16 left. Arizona got the lead up to eight on a Larsson layup with 5:16 remaining only to see Angel make consecutive 3s to cut it to 69-65 with 4:17 remaining.

Stanford wouldn’t score again for another 3-plus minutes, a span that included Larsson drawing a charge, Raynaud airballing a 3 and Jones bricking a backdoor layup as Arizona pulled away.

Arizona made its first two shots, 3s by Love and Boswell, but then had four straight empty possessions including back-to-back turnovers that let Stanford go on a 9-0 run for an early 12-6 lead.

Stanford made six of its first seven 3s, the last a wide open shot in transition by Benny Gealer, who was starting in place of the injured Kanaan Carlyle, to go up 26-17 with 12:14 left in the first half. Carlyle had 28 against Arizona on Dec. 31.

But just as quickly the Cardinal got cold, missing 13 straight shots while Arizona hit 5 of 7 to tie it at 28 on a Lewis drive with 6:35 left in the first half.

The UA briefly took a 32-30 lead only to see Stanford make seven straight shots and finish the first half on a 15-2 run.

Arizona hits the road for the next two games, visiting Utah on Thursday night and Colorado on Saturday. Both teams are unbeaten at home in Pac-12 play.