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Wildcats' defense confounds Stanford's Randle — again
Stanford Cardinal

Wildcats' defense confounds Stanford's Randle — again

STANFORD, Calif. — The next time Arizona plays against Stanford, Chasson Randle might just stay in the locker room and watch on the big screen.

If he’s on the court, bad things are going to happen to him. Things he’ll want to forget. Things he’ll probably never forget.

On Thursday night in a 60-57 win at Maples Pavilion, the Wildcats did what the Wildcats do to Randle. Namely, send him to the corner — no dinner, no TV, no fun.

Randle, who entered the game averaging 19.1 points per game, had his worst shooting game of the season against the wily Wildcats, who brained and brawned their way to a third straight dominant defensive performance against the fine scorer.

“They’re very active defensively,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “With the ability to put a guy like Nick Johnson out there to guard both positions. They’re active and athletic. They have an experienced guard in T.J. McConnell, and he’s active, feisty.”

With each successive missed shot, you could almost feel the heat rising on Randle’s face.

The junior guard had 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting, 1-of-5 three-point shooting, and 5-of-8 free-throw shooting.

Before he hit a pair of free throws with six seconds left in the game, he hadn’t scored in more than 16 minutes, his lone second-half field goal coming on a three-pointer 3 minutes, 32 seconds into the half.

He didn’t have much to say after the game.

“They dig in defensively. That’s all I can really say,” Randle said, and you can forgive his quick take.

These Wildcats are quite a handful for him.

He went 3 for 11 for 11 points in last year’s 73-66 loss to the Wildcats.

As a freshman in 2012, he managed just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Early on Thursday, Randle did everything but score as Stanford built a surprising 9-2 lead. Randle had two assists and two rebounds in the game’s first 10 minutes while being held scoreless, chipping in his first points on a free throw with 7:43 left in the first half.

He finished with just five rebounds and three assists.

“They’re gifted defensively, and they take personal challenges,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “They’re smart, and they’re very talented. They make the game hard, and they did a good job staying in from of him.”

This was no small task for the Wildcats. They’ve made shutting down top-flight scorers a mission.

In a 65-56 win over Utah on Sunday at McKale Center, Arizona surrendered 32 points to the Utes’ 1-2 punch of Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge, but it came on 9-of-26 field-goal shooting, and the duo needed 13 free throws to get there.

A few nights earlier, Colorado’s Askia Booker managed just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Arizona State’s sensational Jahii Carson had 20 of the Sun Devils’ meager 68 points at McKale on Jan. 16, but he shot just 7 of 19.

It’s becoming a pattern, and Arizona’s bigs might be the most thankful group in the land.

“They really pick up for us,” Wildcat forward Brandon Ashley said. “It does wonders for our team. It definitely makes it easier for us when we don’t have to worry about their guards going off like that.”

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