TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Mark Lyons scored a season-high 25 points and led a key stretch in the second half, helping No. 7 Arizona hold off Stanford 73-66 Wednesday night on the 40th anniversary of the first game at the McKale Center.
Playing in front of color-coordinated home crowd, Arizona (20-2, 9-2 Pac-12) came out flat and needed most of the first half to catch the Cardinal. The Wildcats stayed close in a back-and-forth second half until Lyons took over, leading them to their seventh straight win over Stanford.
Solomon Hill added 23 points and Angelo Chol gave Arizona a lift with Grant Jerrett out, grabbing eight rebounds.
Stanford (14-9, 5-5) dominated Arizona early and kept up with the Wildcats before fading under Arizona’s defensive pressure in the closing minutes.
Dwight Powell scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and had 10 rebounds. Aaron Bright added 16 points for the Cardinal.
The McKale Center became one of college basketball’s most difficult places to visit during its 40 years of existence, the rowdy fans and strong Arizona teams often overwhelming opponents.
The arena named after former athletic director J.K. “Pop” McKale has been home to some of the game’s best players, from Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr to Jason Gardner and Derrick Williams, along with a Hall of Fame coach in Lute Olson.
The Wildcats won 67 of their first 70 games after McKale Center opened and kept going, posting a winning percentage of .832, including 10 undefeated home seasons.
Stanford, like so many other teams, hasn’t had much luck in the building, losing 28 of 36 games.
The Cardinal’s best shot at upsetting the Wildcats was to beat them from long range.
Arizona has struggled to defend the perimeter all season and is 11th in the Pac-12 in 3-point defense, allowing teams to shoot 35 percent.
After a mediocre start from beyond the arc, the Cardinal have found the range since conference started, leading the Pac-12 at 45 percent after hitting 14 3-pointers in a win over Oregon State their last game.
Bright was the man early against Arizona, hitting a pair of 3s as the Cardinal scored the game’s first 10 points, then hit another, giving him 11 points — nearly three above his season average — in the first 8 minutes.
Then, no one could hit anything.
Stanford had a stretch of more than 8 minutes without a field goal, finishing the first half 8 of 27. The Cardinal led by one, though, because Arizona couldn’t make anything, either.
The Wildcats needed four minutes to score their first points — five missed shots and a pair of turnovers — and kept missing until late in the half, when they closed with a 9-1 run.
The second half had more made shots, but not a lot of separation.
Powell took over for Stanford, scoring on a variety of jump hooks and drives. He also set up Chasson Randle for a 3-pointer and hit a couple of free throws to keep the Cardinal ahead.
Lyons was the man for the Wildcats despite an elbow to the throat that had him coughing and in pain for at least a minute on the bench.
The graduate senior gave Arizona its first lead at 38-37 and later set up Brandon Ashley for a dunk with a bounce pass in traffic. Lyons also scored on a breakaway off a steal and set up Angelo Chol for a layup with a tough pass through two defenders.
Lyons kept going. Powell didn’t.
Lyons followed a missed jumper by Powell to set up Chol for a layup with another dish inside, then scored on backdoor cut to cap a 9-0 run that put the Wildcats up 58-54.
After Bright hit a 3-pointer, Lyons followed with one of his own and found Kevin Parrom in the corner for another that stretched the lead to 65-59 with 1:39 left.
Stanford finished 7 for 19 from 3-point range.