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First chance at revenge on menu for Arizona men’s basketball

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-stanford-cardinal-pac12-revenge-rematch-2024-tommy-lloyd-kj-lewis Photo by Larry Placido/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In going 18-2 and rolling to the Pac-12 title two years ago, Arizona’s first conference loss under Tommy Lloyd was by 16 at UCLA. A week later, the Wildcats would beat the Bruins and defeat them again in the Pac-12 Tournament final.

A 16-point loss at Colorado late in the regular season was avenged two weeks later in the Pac-12 tourney, and Arizona got payback for that early-season loss at Tennessee a year later at McKale Center.

The same pattern continued last season, when the Wildcats suffered six losses in Pac-12 play but won the next meeting with each of those teams, making them 9-0 in revenge games during the Lloyd era. That included all three games in their run to a second straight Pac-12 tourney championship.

The tenth opportunity to atone for a previous loss is on tap Sunday night when No. 11 Arizona (16-5, 7-3 Pac-12) hosts Stanford (11-9, 6-4) at McKale.

The UA lost 100-82 in Palo Alto on Dec. 31, a game that saw the Cardinal make a school-record 16 3-pointers on just 25 attempts. Since then they’ve gone 5-3, including Thursday’s 71-62 win at ASU in which they ended the game on a 17-2 run.

“They’re dangerous,” Lloyd said of Stanford on Thursday night after Arizona’s 91-65 win over Cal. “I watch them on film and I’m not comfortable, and so we got to figure out in the next 48 hours to prepare how to come out and play a better game against them than we did last time. I mean, hopefully they got our guys’ attention this time around.”

Stanford scored the most points in regulation against the UA since the 2009 Sweet 16 in what ended up being the first of three straight road losses. Arizona ended that skid last weekend at Oregon, and a win Sunday would give it a 3-game win streak for the first time since starting the season 8-0.

Freshman guard KJ Lewis said the Stanford loss has been “in the back of our minds” but the greater focus has been returning to the form the team had in November and early December.

“I feel like we’re getting that rhythm back that we had in the beginning,” said Lewis, who scored a career-high 14 against Cal. “We’re getting that joy back, we’re getting that competitive nature back. It’s February, it’s time to kick things up a notch.”

To beat Stanford this time it will need to take away the 3—the Cardinal are 10th in the country at 38.9 percent and tops in league play at 43.8 percent—but also keep Spencer Jones from once again going off.

The fifth-year senior is averaging 11.5 points per game this season and 11.0 for his career, but in nine games against Arizona he’s averaged 15.8 (with four of his 16 career 20-point games) while making 27 of 53 3s.

The Wildcats have at least one more revenge opportunity in the regular season when Washington State comes to McKale on Feb. 22. Avenging the Oregon State loss would have to come in the Pac-12 tourney, while any rematches against Purdue or FAU would have to come in the NCAA Tournament or in a future season.

Arizona in revenge games under Tommy Lloyd

Tennessee (2021) L, 77-73 W, 75-70 (2022)

UCLA (2022) L, 75-59 W, 76-66

Colorado (2022) L, 79-63 W, 82-72

Utah (2022) L, 81-66 W, 88-62 (2023)

Washington State (2023) L, 74-61 W, 63-58

Oregon (2023) L, 87-68 W, 91-76

Stanford (2023) L, 88-79 W, 95-84

ASU (2023) L, 89-88 W, 78-59

UCLA (2023) L, 82-73 W, 61-59