The Arizona Wildcats continue to make it look easy.
The No. 7 team in the nation was hosted by Stanford on Thursday — a program which is unranked, but came into the game with an identical 4-1 Pac-12 record.
The Wildcats built a nine-point cushion just over midway through the first half, but the Cardinal closed out with a strong run and took a two-point lead into the intermission.
As usual, Arizona came out in the second half and started to pull away, working itself up to a 14-point advantage with just under three minutes left.
Stanford whittled the gap down to six in the final minute, but the Wildcats held on for an 89-82 win, their third in a row.
Arizona improved to 5-1 in conference and 17-2 overall, while Stanford fell to 13-5, 4-2.
Here’s a look at Thursday night’s game at Maples Pavilion, by the numbers:
Arizona center Dusan Ristic fouled out in just 11 minutes on the court, going scoreless and grabbing two rebounds in the short appearance. He was one of many Wildcats to be in foul trouble, as Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley each had four and Stanley Johnson picked up three. Stanford ended up recording more fouls, 28-23, as the team sent Arizona to the line several times as the game wound down to keep the clock from running. Four players picked up four fouls apiece for the Cardinal.
Tarczewski had a modest output of five points and three rebounds, as he only played 23 minutes because of foul trouble. The junior center went just 2-for-7 from the field and 1-for-4 from the free throw line in the win. On the defensive side, he blocked two shots and stole the ball once.
A late three by Stanford’s Robert Cartwright gave the Cardinal just three players who scored off the bench. The home team’s reserves combined for just 15 points, while four Wildcats scored off the bench for a total of 26 points, led by Gabe York’s 13. Little-used forward Matt Korcheck’s four points tied his career high.
Arizona surprisingly — and unusually — was outrebounded Thursday night by a 29-25 margin. Cardinal forward Anthony Brown pulled down a game-high nine boards, while Johnson led the Wildcats with seven. Both schools each grabbed seven offensive rebounds on the night.
Forwards Johnson and Ashley combined for 36 points in the win; Johnson shot 7-for-11 from the field for 19 points, while Ashley went 5-for-7 for 17. The latter also made his 11th three-pointer of the season. Johnson and Ashley were two of the five Wildcats to score in double-figures Thursday, while Stanford had just three players reach the mark, led by Chasson Randle’s 26.
Arizona again had an underwhelming performance from the free throw line. Since the team was ahead in the closing minutes, it was sent to the line over and over again. The Wildcats took 36 free throws on the evening, making a modest 24 of them (66.7 percent). They made up for it by shooting a torrid 55.6 percent from the field. Stanford shot 77.4 percent from the charity stripe in 31 attempts, and went 50 percent from the field.
The 89 points by Sean Miller’s group were its third-highest mark of the year. The Wildcats have now reached or surpassed the 80-point plateau seven times this season, and unsurprisingly, they have yet to lose when scoring so high. Fifty of those 89 points came in the second half Thursday, while Stanford had 41 in both the first and the second.
Stanford’s losing streak to the Wildcats continues: The men’s team hasn’t beaten the Tucson-based school since the 2008-2009 season; the last Cardinal win came on Jan. 4, 2009, to be exact. The two schools will face each other one more time this year, and it’s the final game of the regular season for the both of them — Saturday, March 7, at McKale Center.