LAS VEGAS —In the second round of the Pac-12 tournament, Arizona faced nine seeded Stanford for the second time in the past week. This game was similar to last Thursday’s matchup in Tucson when Stanford forward Spencer Jones was the answer for the Cardinal all night. Jones lit up the scoreboard with 28 points on 12/18 shooting. However, Arizona continued to counter on the offensive end by getting into the lane, dominating in the paint while outscoring Stanford 42-28 in that area and utilizing Christian Koloko, which ultimately helped them squeeze out the victory.
- Koloko’s efficiency in the paint
The talented center owned the paint all night long. On a night when shots struggled to fall from deep, Arizona relied on Koloko’s ability to roll off screens and attack the rim. Head coach Tommy Lloyd put Koloko in pick-and-roll situations, which helped free him up. Koloko finished with 24 points on 10 of 12 shooting while also active on the glass, finishing just one rebound shy of a double-double. Arizona is a whole new team when they receive consistent production from Koloko.
2. Slow start
Another game went by where Arizona struggled out of the gates, playing behind throughout. Over the past month, there has been a common theme against more significant opponents. Arizona tends to have defensive struggles when put in ball screens. At times there seems to be a lack of communication leading to open looks from three-point land or slip screens into the lane. Previously, coach Lloyd mentioned that the team had been putting in new defensive sets to try and work on them before the tournament.
3. Free throw shooting woes
This afternoon, Arizona shot 13/19 (68%) on free throw's. Not converting and leaving points off the board changes the whole complexity of games. Especially in elimination games, winning the free throw battle tends to have a lot to do with the outcome and if Arizona had converted early on, this would have limited Stanford from all their runs. Azuolas Tubelis went 0/2 from the line earlier in the first half when Arizona had difficulty getting in rhythm. Seeing the ball go through the net early in games can help the Wildcats settle in and avoid relying on big second halves to come out victorious.
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4. Limited bench production
Arizona likely has the most depth in the country, which tends to separate them from many other teams. The Wildcats received only 17% of their scoring production off the bench, 14 points in this game. However, sophomore Pelle Larsson was impactful on the defensive end, helping slow down Stanford’s Spencer Jones. More bench production for the rest of the tournament will have to occur because Kerr Kriisa’s status is in jeopardy as he suffered an ankle injury late in the game, forcing him to exit. If Kriisa does not dress tomorrow, expect veteran Justin Kier to start in his absence.
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