Lee leads 'Cats to road victory against Stanford
Arizona men's basketball has been searching all season for a spark plug off the bench to provide production when its stars are having off nights. In a game that saw leading scorer Brandon Randolph go 4-15 from the floor, the Wildcats found that spark in sophomore Ira Lee.
Lee had 12 points off the bench despite picking up three first half fouls, propelling the ‘Cats to a gutty 75-70 victory over Stanford to move to 12-4 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.
Both teams went back and forth much of the second half, with neither team leading by more than seven points. Every time Arizona looked to put the game away, KZ Okpala would answer. After a Brandon Williams layup gave the ‘Cats that seven-point lead with 6:59 left, Okpala scored twice to make it a 61-60 game with just under four minutes left.
Stanford trailed 69-68 with 1:13 left after a well-timed alley-oop from Okpala to Josh Sharma, but Lee knocked down a layup and hit two free-throws to put Arizona up 73-68, sealing the victory for good.
Arizona had five players in double figures, led by Randolph and Lee. Williams also had 12, with Chase Jeter and Ryan Luther each scoring 10. The ‘Cats overcame allowing Stanford to shoot 54 percent from the floor by forcing 19 turnovers, going 16-18 from the free-throw line, and 7-12 from three-point range.
Arizona got out to a fast start, taking a 10-2 lead early on thanks to a pair of 3 pointers from Williams. The freshman came into the game making just four of his last 22 shots from three-point range over his last five games. The 'Cats were plagued in the first half by foul trouble, forcing head coach Sean Miller to mix and match different rotations.
Four players had at least two fouls in the first half, with Lee and Luther each picking up three. Jeter fouled out late in the second half and only played 18 minutes.
Stanford shot 50 percent from the floor and only trailed by two at halftime, thanks to the dynamic sophomore duo of Okpala and Daejon Davis. The two combined for 28 first half points on 10-16 shooting.
The second half, however, was a much different story. While Okpala was still able to get his, finishing with 29 points on 11-16 from the floor, Davis was held scoreless after halftime, only attempting one shot. Stanford took the lead thanks to an 8-0 run early in the second half. While Randolph didn’t shoot the ball well, he got to the free-throw line, connecting on all six of his second half attempts, scoring 11 of his 17 points after halftime.
The Wildcats will complete the Bay Area trip Saturday night in Berkeley, as they face the California Golden Bears. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.
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