Top-ranked Wildcats battle Cardinal in Pac-12 tilt

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Updated: 1/29/2014 7:47 am

Stanford, CA ( - Continuing the best start in school history, the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats take to the road to battle the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 showdown at Maples Pavilion on Wednesday.

Sean Miller's Wildcats have been sitting atop the national polls for a school- record eight straight weeks and certainly look like they are in no hurry to relinquish their spot. The team is off a a sparkling 20-0 record and is one of only three unbeatens left in the nation (Syracuse, Wichita State). Arizona is also off to its best start in Pac-12 play, moving to 7-0 with last weekend's 65-56 win over Utah.

Johnny Dawkins' Cardinal are 13-6 on the season, but have come on strong of late, posting four wins in the last five games to move over .500 in league play at 4-3. Stanford traveled to the Los Angeles area last week and split a pair of games, losing at UCLA (91-74), before outlasting USC in overtime, 79-71.

Arizona has won the last seven meetings in this series and now holds a 55-29 advantage over Stanford all-time.

The Wildcats didn't shoot the ball particularly well against Utah, but were able to counter a 3-of-14 effort from behind the arc with 20 offensive rebounds in holding off the Utes in Tucson and remain unbeaten, Nick Johnson led the way for Arizona with a game-high 22 points. Brandon Ashley posted 11 points, while Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tacked on 10 each in the win. Gordon was instrumental on the glass, recording a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds.

Arizona has shown very few weaknesses this season and seems to be able to win games at both ends of the floor. The team ranks fourth nationally in scoring margin (+18.4), scoring defense (56.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.372), while sitting fifth in rebounding margin (+10.1). Johnson's headlines a talented roster with his 16.7 ppg. Gordon is one of the nation's top freshmen, averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game. Ashley (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Kaleb Tarczewski (9.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg) round out a big and aggressive frontline. T.J. McConnell runs the point and although he isn't much of a scoring threat at 7.0 ppg, he does rank third in the conference in assists (6.0 apg).

The Cardinal possess some firepower of their own, shooting an efficient .481 from the field overall, including a strong .403 from behind the arc. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by junior guard Chasson Randle, who ranks third in the conference at a hefty 19.1 ppg. Forwards Dwight Powell (14.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Josh Huestis (11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg) are a formidable duo up front, while Anthony Brown (13.1 ppg) is the resident sniper on the team, converting 50 percent from behind the arc (31- of-62).

Randle saved his best for last, scoring seven of his team-high 17 points in overtime to push the Cardinal to victory over USC. Four other Stanford players finished in double figures in the balanced attack. Huestis netted 16 points, followed by Powell (14 pts), John Gage (12 pts) and Brown (11 pts). Brown added eight rebounds and six assists to complete an impressive stat line for the Cardinal.


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