Feb 28, 2002
Tucson, AZ - As the regular season nears a close and the Pac-10 race continues to remain jumbled at the top with six teams still in the title hunt.
Two of the contenders meet when Arizona plays host to Stanford on Thursday.
Both of these squads have had their troubles recently. Fourteenth-ranked Arizona (18-8, 11-5 Pac-10) has lost two of three, while No. 19 Stanford (17-8, 10-6) is on a two-game losing streak. Oregon leads the conference at 12-4.
The Wildcats, however, recently broke their own two-game skid with an 83-75 win over Arizona State on Wednesday. The win avenged Arizona's 88-72 loss to the Sun Devils on Jan. 23.
"I think we were going down and trying to get them back after what happened instead of going down and playing our game," said Arizona guard Salim Stoudamire, who had 24 points and scored Arizona's final two baskets to secure the win.
Coming off one close win, Arizona will probably be in for another dogfight when it welcomes Stanford to the McKale Center. In the teams' first meeting on Feb. 2, the Wildcats emerged with an 88-82 overtime win at Maples Pavilion.
"With Stanford coming up, this has been a great series and I'm sure it will be the same on Thursday," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "The problems you're dealing with start with the first two names out of your mouth: Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt. Both of them created a lot of problems for us up there."
Jacobsen and Borchardt have been creating problems for opponents all season. All-America candidate Jacobsen averages a team-high 22.6 points, while Borchardt scores 16.5 points per game.
But Jacobsen and Borchardt were not enough to prevent back-to-back losses to Southern California and UCLA last week.
"I think our confidence had been shaken a little," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "Against UCLA, we just weren't confident, no one seemed to want to shoot and we spent the game trying to drive in against a zone. USC played really well and just flat out beat us."
Montgomery also noted the extreme competitiveness of the Pac-10 this season and how it has affected his squad's chance at a conference title.
"One week ago we were No. 10 in the nation and faced the prospect of winning two games at home and then going to Arizona to try and win a conference championship," he said. "It just goes to show there aren't any guarantees and you have to continue to be competitive."
Arizona leads the all-time series with Stanford 41-20.