In the regular season finale, Arizona (23-7, 11-6) hosts Stanford (15-13, 8-9) Saturday afternoon (2 pm| CBS). Arizona is coming off a furious last minute comeback victory over Cal while Stanford is coming off a loss at ASU.
After the intense win against Cal, a game in which Arizona trailed by 8 with less than two minutes to play, Arizona looks to finish off the regular season with a more comfortable win. In a game where Arizona is favored by double digits, Coach Sean Miller will be looking for his team to pick up some much needed momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas next week.
Saturday at McKale is also senior day. With five seniors on the roster, this will be a special day to recognize each senior for the last time on Lute & Bobbi Olson court while they still don the Wildcat uniform. Look for impassioned performances from Ryan Anderson, Mark Tollefsen, Gabe York, and Kaleb Tarczewski, who is two wins away from the all-time Arizona wins record (and hopefully a Jacob Hazzard appearance).
In the last matchup against the Cardinal, Arizona held Stanford standout Rosco Allen, who is averaging 16 and 6, to 4 points and 7 rebounds on 1-12 shooting. Containing Allen again will go a long way towards a Wildcat win. With all five starters averaging more than 10 points per game, Stanford is a well-rounded team.
Stanford’s biggest issue is depth, with few players off the bench contributing much on a nightly basis.
Stanford does not shoot the three-ball well (33% as a team), something that is generally required in order to upset Arizona at McKale. Defending said three-point line will be a major focus defensively. Arizona will also look to control the boards again (outrebounded Stanford 42-29 in January) in setting the tempo and imposing its will on an inferior opponent.
Arizona was buoyed Thursday by strong performances from the big men, namely Zeus and Anderson, who both had double-doubles. Similar performances will be possible Saturday against the smaller Stanford frontcourt. Gabe York, who willed Arizona to the win Thursday with 19 second half points, will want to leave McKale with a bang, and as such will likely look for his shot early and often.
Stanford has been playing well of late and beat Oregon at home a few weeks ago. Playing at McKale on senior day is a whole different animal. If Arizona is going to make a run in March, it would do well to get some momentum going heading into the NCAA Tournament. That may have started Thursday. From this point on, it is all truly one game at a time.