TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)—Another game, another double-digit victory for No. 7 Arizona.
The Wildcats’ 89-75 win over Stanford on Saturday was their 11th in a row, their longest streak since 2001. Eight of the victories have been by double figures.
But this one wasn’t nearly as easy as the final score would indicate. The Wildcats (11-1, 2-0 Pac-10) blew a 13-point first-half lead and fell behind by five midway through the second half before rallying. The Wildcats buried the Cardinal’s upset hopes by closing the game on a 19-6 run.
“They made some big runs that might have scared a few people,” said Arizona’s Marcus Williams, who led the Wildcats with 23 points. “We knew we had to pull it together, knew that we have to play to our level and play Arizona basketball.”
Ivan Radenovic added 22 points for Arizona and point guard Mustafa Shakur had 18 points and nine assists.
Arizona’s last 11-game winning streak ended with a loss to Duke in the national championship game.
The latest victory revealed a measure of toughness. Arizona was pushed by a taller, physically imposing team, and the Wildcats pushed back.
Stanford outrebounded Arizona 36-27 and outscored it 42-32 in the paint. After trailing by 13 late in the first half, the Cardinal exploited Arizona’s weak interior to take a 61-56 lead with 12:40 to play.
The Wildcats seemed to have no answer for Stanford’s twin towers, 7-foot freshmen Brook and Robin Lopez. Brook Lopez scored 17 points with nine rebounds and his brother had 14 points and seven boards.
“Those big guys, they played incredible,” Shakur said.
It was the most the brothers have played together this season, but they’re likely to share more time on the floor after Saturday’s performances.
“It felt natural playing with him,” Robin Lopez said. “I have played with him forever.”
Lawrence Hill led Stanford (8-3, 1-1) with 20 points.
The Cardinal are a young team, but they weren’t intimidated by the howling crowd. Stanford had won four of its last six visits to McKale Center, where Arizona has posted a 90.7 winning percentage under coach Lute Olson.
But just when it appeared that Stanford might have found the key to stopping Arizona, the Wildcats woke up and went on an 11-0 run. They never trailed again.
“Big lineup, small lineup, the bottom line for us this afternoon is we didn’t get stops when we needed to,” Stanford coach Trent Johnson said. “We didn’t make key plays offensively when we needed to.”
Still, the Cardinal pulled within 70-69 on Brook Lopez’ dunk with 4:49 to play. Radenovic answered with a layup 20 seconds later, and Arizona went on its closing run.
“When our backs are against the wall, we seem to find a way to make plays and really seal the game during the crucial moments,” Shakur said.
It helps to shoot the ball as well as Arizona does. The Wildcats, whose 51.8 percent field goal shooting leads the Pac-10, shot 61.2 percent, including 8-of-10 from beyond the 3-point arc. Williams, Shakur and Radenovic went a combined 23-of-36 from the field, 5-of-6 on 3s and 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
Now the surging Wildcats face perhaps their toughest test of the season—a trip to the Pacific Northwest, where they’ll face No. 14 Washington on Thursday night and upstart Washington State on Saturday.
Olson said he hopes his team’s rugged early schedule, which opened with a loss at Virginia and included neutral-site victories over Illinois and Louisville, has helped prepare his team for the road.
“I feel very good about this team,” Olson said. “We’ll see how we deal with the road now with two very difficult games for us up in Washington.”