Arizona-Stanford Men's Basketball Preview

March 7, 2001

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - With nothing left to do but wait for Selection Sunday, Pac-10 championStanford plays host to No. 8 Arizona on Thursday in a game that could havedecided the conference title.

Top-ranked Stanford (27-1, 15-1) eliminated any potential drama fromThursday's game by clinching its third consecutive conference title lastSaturday with a 75-69 win at UCLA. The victory avenged its only loss of theseason.

The Cardinal has a two-game lead over the Wildcats in the Pac-10 with onlySunday's matchup remaining. The conference does not hold a tournament, insteadawarding the championship and an automatic bid to the regular season winner.

Arizona (21-7, 13-3) isn't likely to be intimidated by playing a road gameagainst the nation's top-ranked team. The Wildcats marched into Maples Pavilionon Jan. 8 of last season and beat then-No. 1 Stanford 68-65.

'There is no question Stanford is No. 1 in the country,' said Arizonacoach Lute Olson, whose team was the preseason No. 1. 'Certainly we have greatrespect for them but we are not in awe of where they are. We know it will takeour best effort, but it will also take pretty close to their best effort.'

Even if Arizona does beat Stanford again, it will mean little to theCardinal's season. Stanford appears to be on its way to the top seed in theWest Region of the NCAA tournament, and coach Mike Montgomery seems to beshifting his focus to the postseason.

'I don't think a loss at any given time is a major determiner about yourteam,' he said. 'Obviously if you lose in the tournament, it is the end ofyour season, but it is more about your ability to be consistent throughout andplay well when you have to.'

A victory would help Arizona more than a loss would hurt Stanford. Beatingthe Cardinal could give the Wildcats a better shot at earning the second seedin the West.

Stanford, winner of seven straight, beat Arizona 85-76 on Jan. 6. TheCardinal outrebounded the Wildcats 42-32, and twins Jason and Jarron Collinscombined for 41 points and 21 rebounds.

The task of keeping the Collins twins under control will fall to 7-foot-1Arizona senior Loren Woods, who had 16 points and seven rebounds in the firstmeeting.

The Wildcats have won four in a row, including a 104-65 rout of Oregon lastSaturday, the fourth time they have reached the 100-point mark this season.

Arizona leads the all-time series with Stanford 39-20, and despite theJanuary loss has won five of the last seven meetings.

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