Arizona beats Stanford in tough time
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona basketball team hoped its 67-57 victory over Stanford served a larger purpose than a win in the Pac-10 standings.
“We came here to play hard today,” coach Sean Miller said, “and in a sense play for Tucson.”
Jamelle Horne, who lost his starting job one game before the Pac-10 season began, scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Arizona completed a home sweep of the Bay Area schools in a contest pushed back a day because of Saturday’s mass shooting in suburban Tucson that left six people dead and critically wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
She and others hurt in the attack were being treated at University Medical Center, just a few blocks from McKale Center, where Arizona’s largest home crowd of the season – 14,374 – showed up for the game on a brilliantly sunny Sunday.
“We just wanted to come together and help the city out through our play this afternoon,” Arizona’s Solomon Hill said. “Our focus was that we were playing for the city in this tough time.”
Horne, 6-of-7 shooting overall, made all four of his 3-point attempts, two to lift the Wildcats (14-3, 3-1) out of trouble down the stretch. Derrick Williams, coming off a career-high 31 points in Arizona’s 73-71 victory over California on Thursday night, made all five of his shots, two of them 3-pointers, to finish with 14.
Josh Owens scored 18 and Jeremy Green 15 for Stanford (9-5, 2-1).
There was an increased police presence at the game and fans noted a more thorough search of their belongings than usual.
Before the tip-off, university president Robert Shelton spoke to the crowd from center court, thanking Stanford for its cooperation and praising doctors at nearby University Medical Center “without whose efforts we’d have a lot of dead people right now in Tucson.”
Miller held a meeting with the players on Saturday to “paint the picture of the reality of what happened, knowing that basketball was on the back burner.”
“Hopefully in some small way, today’s game had, in a way, a healing effect on our community,” Miller said in his postgame news conference, “where maybe all of us can take our mind off something for a brief moment and kind of be together for a different purpose. It’s not easy on anybody. The rescheduling of the game was certainly the right thing.”
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said rescheduling the game was “an easy decision.”
“We wanted to make sure we respected a tragic situation and a loss of life and injuries,” he said.
The Cardinal, down 54-39 with 9 1/2 minutes to play, outscored Arizona 15-5 to cut it to 59-54 on Green’s 15-footer with 4 minutes to play.
Horne’s much-needed 3-pointer from the corner boosted the lead to 62-54 with 3:35 remaining. Owens scored inside, drawing Williams’ fourth foul in the process, but missed the free throw and Arizona led 62-56 with 3:21 to go. Horne’s last 3 put the Wildcats in control for good at 65-56 with 2:26 remaining.
Arizona dominated the boards 41-26 and made 10-of-17 3s to Stanford’s 2-of-12. Green, normally the Cardinal’s leading scorer, was 5-of-14 shooting, 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
The Wildcats scored the final 10 points of the first half, capped by Horne’s rebound dunk at the buzzer, to take a 39-28 lead.
Horne, who had been replaced by Jesse Perry as a starting forward, came off the bench early and played 24 minutes to the scoreless Perry’s eight. Horne scored 10 in the first half.
Miller said Horne might get his starting job back when the Wildcats play at home Saturday against Arizona State.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to start,” Horne said, “but I’m getting more comfortable coming off the bench and providing the spark.”
Green said the Cardinal players respected the sad backdrop to Sunday’s game.
“If anything, I think it made both teams want to get out there and play even harder given the tragedy,” he said. “There are other things more important and bigger than basketball.”