The post-winning-a-conference-title hangover is a real thing, and Arizona has been slow to find the cure.
The Wildcats, who just won the Pac-12 regular season title in impressive fashion at USC, sleepwalked for much of the first half before flipping the switch just before halftime en route. to an 81-69 win over Stanford on Thursday night at McKale. Center.
It was the 17and conference win for second-ranked Arizona, tying the record for most in Pac-12 history. The Wildcats can break the record on Saturday against Cal in the regular season finale.
Arizona (27-3, 17-2) shot 50.9% from the field but were outplayed by Stanford (15-14, 8-11) on the boards, losing 35-28 after being 10 under at some point in the second half. . The Cardinal only managed 11 second-chance points, however, while their 17 turnovers were converted into 23 UA points.
Benoit Mathurin led the Wildcats with 24 points, adding five rebounds and four assists, while Christian Koloko had 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks and Azuolas Tubelis had 11 points.
UA trailed 39-37 at halftime, the second consecutive home game they were behind at intermission. He took his first lead since 12:21 to go into the first half on a game 4 points from Kerr Kriisawho drained a triple and was fouled, then after Koloko crushed a Cardinal shot, Tubelis cornered a home to make it 47-43 with 17:52 to go.
The dunk wasn’t as impressive as this in the first half:
Stanford regained the lead at 52-51 with 13:47 to make a layup by a 7-foot-1 freshman Maxime Raynaud, part of an 8-0 run to lead by three. Much of this happened during a period when Koloko, Mathurin and Tubelis were all on the bench, but after a television timeout, Mathurin was back and he drew in enough defense to allow Justin Kier to drain 3 straight seconds for a 59-54 AU lead with 10:53 remaining.
The Cardinal had a chance to cut the deficit to 2 with 7:41 to go, but Lukas Kisunas missed two free throws and 50 seconds later the Wildcats led 67-58 after a Mathurin 3 and a Mathurin dunk on a Tubelis 3.
Of them Shovel Larsson free throws with 4:40 remaining gave UA their first double-digit lead, at 73-62, and they stayed that way for much of the rest of the way. The final stages had drama, however, when Dalen Terry went down hard with 3:38 to go and had to be helped off the field and into the locker room, although returned to the bench before the game was over.
Stanford, who shot 53.6 percent in the first half, including 7 of 10 from 3, were 2 of 9 from deep in the second half and 42.4 percent from the field.
Arizona’s shots wouldn’t come early, starting 2 of 9 and 5 of 17 from the field. It was the reverse for Stanford, which hit 9 of its first 16 shots and started 6 of 6 from 3.
A 3 by Michael O’Connell— who had all of his 16 points in the first half — gave the Cardinal a 22-15 lead with 9:41 to go as the Wildcats went nearly five minutes without scoring. They came in at 23-22 with 6:17 remaining on a steal and dunk par Larsson, but Stanford built a 35-26 advantage with 2:26 to go before halftime.
UA had their last six shots of the first half, including a runner from Mathurin with four seconds left to close the gap to 39-37 at the break.