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The loss of Brandon Ashley shouldn't even be mentioned anymore as Arizona has seemingly put that in the past and already figured out how to succeed without him. The Wildcats have won their last two games by at least 27 points, at Colorado and against California, a team that gave them their first loss of the season. Is it safe to say Arizona is back to its dominant self?
There's no question Stanford is in for possibly its toughest test of the season, playing at an Arizona squad that is dominating opponents. The Cardinal are coming off a road loss at Arizona State on Wednesday and are sitting very close to the bubble line in a lot of brackets. A win here would do them wonders, but do they even have what it takes to keep it close?
To put it shortly, the answer is yes. Stanford was unable to win at home in the first beating with Arizona, losing 60-57. They kept it close even though leading scorer Chasson Randle (18.7 PPG) was only 3-of-15 from the field. The Cardinal have one of the biggest teams in the conference and that comes handy against guys like Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon. In that first game, those two shot a combined 3-of-14 from the field for 10 points.
Stanford has a trio of big guys in Stefan Nastic, Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis that can guard Arizona's biggest players. Nastic plays exclusively on Tarczewski and whenever the big man from 'Zona has someone to matchup against, he usually doesn't do that well.
The problem in that last game for the Cardinal was that Randle and Anthony Brown didn't do enough on the perimeter to win. Arizona's T.J. McConnell was often the shortest player on the court, yet finished with eight rebounds to go with 11 points, four assists and zero turnovers. Leading scorer Nick Johnson didn't take a ton of shots, but still was efficient with 16 points. That's where Stanford needs to play better.
Randle should have a better game on the offensive end as his previous performance against the Wildcats was one of his worst of the year. Randle hit seven three-pointers last weekend against UCLA, but isn't exclusively a shooter as he can drive to the hoop as well. Brown is also a factor as he's averaging more than 20 points in his last four games. He had seven points in the first matchup.
Three games ago the Wildcats decided to use Gabe York in their starting lineup with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson coming off the bench. That move has done wonders for the team with Hollis-Jefferson providing a much needed boost from the second unit.
Due to Stanford's size down low, they have the ability to stay close in this game even on the road. The only probably comes in the backcourt where the Wildcats are more consistent. If Brown and Randle can hit their season averages, an upset isn't out of the cards, and they can definitely keep it close.
Predicted Score - Arizona 77 Stanford 60
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