Arizona Basketball: Season Saving Sweep in the Bay Area


Wow! What a weekend for the Arizona Wildcats. Just a few days after a heartbreaking loss to Washington at McKale center the Cats had to pack their bags for the Bay Area. The scouting report said that this was going to be the toughest road trip of the season. The Cats would first have to go to Cal who was tied for 1


in the Pac-12 and hadn’t lost at home this season, and then wrap up the weekend at Stanford who, like the Cats, would also be fighting for their season and had only lost once at home. It was a tall task for a young, depleted team whose season was said to be “over” by many experts. The team used all of this as fuel and played their two best games of the season to sweep the Bay Area (78-74 at Cal and 56-43 at Stanford).

Senior guard Kyle Fogg was a huge reason for both wins but especially the victory at Haas Pavilion on Thursday night. Fogg finished with a season-high 23 points, three boards and four assists. Fogg knew he needed to step up and he certainly did. His leadership and passion carried over to his teammates as they were finally on the right end of a “could go either way” Pac-12 battle. Fogg was a close second for my Stamp of Approval of the Cal game. After being named the Pac-12 Player of the Week, I didn’t want him to sweep all of the week’s prestigious awards, so my SOA went to a player who was a much more surprising standout star: freshman Angelo Chol.

This was Chol’s breakout game and a great sign for his future at Arizona. Every second of Chol’s 16 minutes of playing time was impactful. He finished with eight points, four rebounds and two blocks. That stat line might not jump out to an average fan but Wildcat fans know that his performance was much more important than just stats. His energy and decision-making was a crucial ingredient to the win. It was a breath of fresh air for all the fans who knew he had this inside him. The beast has been awakened.

The Cats were fired up and ready for a Saturday afternoon clash with the always tough Stanford Cardinal. Saturdays had not been kind to the Cats as of late. They were coming off three straight Saturday losses that all came down to the final possession (Oregon, Colorado, Washington). Well, the Cats weren’t going to let this one come down to the last shot as they chopped down the Cardinal 56-43. The game was much closer than the score indicates, as it was still an edge-of-your-chair two possession lead with less than two minutes to play. This is when a few great defensive plays put the exclamation mark on a much needed Wildcat win. It was fitting that the D ended this game because it was the best part of Arizona’s game from the tip-off. There was no doubt that my Stamp of Approval for the game was going to Arizona’s team defense. It has been a great D all year long but this feat was on another level. Chol stepped up his game again with four blocks and helped Arizona hold Stanford to an insanely low 25.4 percent field-goal shooting and a total of 43 points. To put things in perspective, the 43 points was the lowest that Stanford had put up since the 1984-85 season!

“It’s been the toughest defensive team that we’ve faced,” admitted Cardinal Coach Johhny Dawkins.

I don’t think that Dawkins will be the last coach to come to that realization this year.

Thanks for reading!