After what seemed like an improbable road sweep, Arizona will return home to face Stanford as the program celebrates forty years at McKale Center. The Wildcats are asking fans to wear either red, white, or blue in accordance with whichever section they are sitting in to celebrate the occasion.
Arizona is entering the game on a three-game winning streak. After losing to UCLA, the Wildcats have beaten USC, Washington and Washington State, with two of those games being on the road. The recent surge has allowed them to pull even with Oregon for the Pac-12 regular season crown.
The Cardinal started out the conference season on a low note, being swept on the road by the Los Angeles schools, but have found what makes them click in the recent weeks. Stanford is 4-1 in the last five games and has won three in a row, including a victory over the Ducks and a blowout win at Utah.
Stanford is coached by former Duke standout Johnny Dawkins. After playing professionally, he returned to his alma mater and learned under Mike Kryzewski for ten years. In 2008, he accepted the Head Coaching position at Stanford, succeeding Trent Johnson. In his fifth year with the Cardinal, Dawkins has amassed an 89-67 record.
Shooting guard Chasson Randle will be leading the team on the floor. The sophomore has stepped up for his team this season taking a leadership role on the court. He is leading the team with 62 assists on the season and ranks just second on the team in scoring as he is averaging 14.2 points each time out.
Joining him in the backcourt is another strong guard. Aaron Bright is a junior that serves as the point guard in the starting rotation. He can run the offense, but has had trouble finding his own as the season has progressed. He is scoring at a 8.3 clip, but had just six points in the last game for the Cardinal.
One of the bigger threats on the floor is junior Dwight Powell. The 6-foot-10 center has been playing well for Stanford this season. He leads the team in scoring, with 14.4 points a night, but also grabs just fewer than eight rebounds to go with it. He reached his scoring average, but was held to just four boards the last time out, against Oregon State.
Big man, Josh Huestis, has been a force for the Cardinal on defense so far. The junior ranks third in the conference with 2.1 blocked shots per game. He has come on strong as of late, having a solid game in the upset over Oregon and scoring 16 points against the Beavers. His season average for points is only 9.6.
The final starter for Stanford will be Andy Brown. As a redshirt senior, Brown has come into the lineup and produced effectively for the Cardinal. The game against Arizona will only be his ninth start of the season, but he has seized the opportunity. At 6-foot-7, he is under performing on the glass, grabbing just 2.9 rebounds each time out. Brown has made up for it on defense, coming in at second on the team in steals with 24 behind Randle’s 33.
True freshman Rosco Allen will be one of the key players off the bench. With Arizona’s freshmen hitting strides developmentally, Allen may be called on to stop Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, or Kaleb Tarczewski. He was in the starting rotation at times for Arizona, but lost his spot due to performance issues. Allen has been unproductive with his rebounding and wasn’t scoring efficiently enough to keep his starting position.
Conference three-point leader John Gage will also be coming off the bench for Stanford. The big man is seeing thirteen minutes a game, but has found a way to be effective. The 6-foot-10 junior likes to float around on the perimeter and shoot long jumpers. Gage is effective at it as his 49-percent accuracy leads the conference from behind the arc.
Arizona may also see Gabriel Harris during the game. He is only seeing ten minutes of action each game. Harris isn’t a big threat on either end of the court, but is a solid player that can make the little things happen on the court.
The Wildcats will be in front of a colorful crowd on Wednesday night. As the second half of conference play starts, Arizona will be looking to reproduce similar, if not better, results to the first half.
Arizona can’t have any slip ups if it expects to be in the hunt for the Pac-12 title. The first test on the road to the conference championship is Wednesday against Stanford.