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a-Clinched outright regular-season title
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The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats put an exclamation point on their 11th outright Pac-12 championship (13th overall) with a convincing 79-66 win over Stanford at McKale Center.
Arizona (27-2 overall, 14-2 in the Pac-12) cut down the nets as the conference champion for the second time in Sean Miller’s five years in Tucson. Miller’s title team with Derrick Williams in 2010-11 went on to the Elite Eight, losing in the last seconds to eventual champion Connecticut.
Jordin Mayes, Arizona’s lone senior who started on Senior Night against Stanford, is the only remaining player from that team.
After three consecutive dominating performances against Colorado (88-61 victory), Cal (87-59) and Stanford, Arizona appears poised to make another deep NCAA tournament run as the potential overall No. 1 seed. The Wildcats are playing their best basketball at the right time and that extends to impressing 7-foot NBA prospect Dusan Ristic, who was in attendance.
Ristic, who plays for Sunrise Academy in Wichita, Kan., reportedly is close to committing to Arizona.
The Wildcats have made a concerted effort to push the tempo, averaging 84.7 points in their last three games. They average 73.9 points this season and 71.8 in Pac-12 games.
“The scoring is starting to flow,” said freshman forward Aaron Gordon in a post-game interview with ESPNU. “We’ve always been a good defensive team. We’re just starting to click now on offense.”
Arizona’s double-digit victories against Colorado, Cal and Stanford came against potential NCAA tournament teams. They beat those teams with not only their offense but a stifling defense that has carried the team this season.
This is the first time in McKale Center’s 41-year history that an opponent did not score at least 70 points in a season. ASU’s 68 points in a 91-68 loss on Jan. 16 is the most scored against the Wildcats at McKale this season.
Gordon, an NBA lottery pick possibility, probably played his last game at McKale and he finished strong. He had his eighth double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
T.J. McConnell (14 points), Gabe York (12) and Nick Johnson (11) also scored in double figures.
The Wildcats outrebouded Stanford 40-31 and their bench outscored the Cardinal’s 25-4 thanks to the performance of York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who finished with eight points and tied Johnson and McConnell for a team-high four assists.