Cold-shooting Stanford routed by No. 18 Arizona

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AP

Cold-shooting Stanford routed by No. 18 Arizona

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Arizona coach Sean Miller delivered an obvious reminder to his team before its game Sunday against Stanford.

"Coach told us ahead of time don't forget we have the size advantage," said 6-foot-11 sophomore backup Chance Comanche. "It started to wear and tear on them and eventually it overpowered them."

The No. 18 Wildcats (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12) were simply too big for the Cardinal, winning 91-52 to complete a weekend road sweep to open Pac-12 Conference play.

The Wildcats' three big men made 15 of their first 17 shots and combined to score 44 points as Arizona beat the Cardinal for the 14th straight time.

"The game plan was feed the bigs. They shot 80 percent from the field, so that was amazing," said freshman guard Rawle Alkins, who scored 19 points.

Junior center Dusan Ristic of Serbia scored 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting and fellow 7-footer Lauri Markannen, a freshman from Finland, scored 15 points, including 3-for-3 from the 3-point arc.

Comanche made his first five attempts and wound up with 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Arizona three big men shot 16 for 20 from the field.

"The production we're getting from that group on offense, defense and rebounding gives us a lot of firepower," Miller said of his big men. "I think we can play a lot of different styles."

Arizona shot 62.5 percent for the game, which left Stanford coach Jarod Haase frustrated. The Cardinal (8-6, 0-2) gave up 189 points in two games to open the conference schedule.

"We're struggling in a lot of ways. Against Arizona it was exposed even more, because they do throw the basketball inside," Haase said. "The post defense, we tried to double early on, and they scored eight quick points off of that. Our interior play and interior defense should be a strength of our team, and today it was not."

Stanford shot 34 percent, including 23 percent in the second half. Reid Travis, the Cardinal's 6-8 power forward, was held to 11 points - seven under his season average - before fouling out.

"There's a lot that went wrong in this game," Travis said. ""Ultimately, it wasn't our offense that lost this game. It was our D."

BIG PICTURE:
Arizona: Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, in just his second game back after missing six with a high ankle sprain he suffered Nov. 30 against Texas Southern, shot 0-for-4 but dished a game-high six assists in 22 minutes off the bench. He gives Arizona one more weapon on offense, especially as a facilitator for the team's big men.

Stanford: The Cardinal is struggling to defend the perimeter and the dribble drive. Arizona made 10 of 14 shots from the 3-point arc two days after Arizona State converted 13 of 24. The Wildcats also attacked the rim, repeatedly drew fouls and cashed in with a 21-for-23 performance at the free throw line.

FROSH TRIO:
Arizona freshmen Alkins (19 points), Kobi Simmons (15) and Markannen (15) each maintained their double-digit scoring averages. The Wildcats and Auburn are the only two Division I teams in the country whose three leading scorers are freshmen, all averaging at least 10 points.

NOT RESILIENT:
Stanford junior forward Michael Humphrey, who sat out the Arizona State game while going through the concussion protocol, was back against Arizona and contributed eight points. He picked up his second foul and had to sit with 12:43 left in the first half and Stanford down just 17-15.

Haase refused to call it a turning point. "At this point, the unfortunate part is, I don't think we're resilient enough or tough enough to fight through any adversity," he said.

VISITOR CHANT:
Several times Sunday a vocal Arizona fan contingent at Maples Pavilion delivered loud chants of "U of A!" The home crowd never effectively answered. "It's tough," Stanford guard Dorian Pickens said. "When we're able to get things going on our side, and start putting some wins up, that won't happen."

UP NEXT:
Arizona returns home for a Thursday matchup against Utah. The Wildcats lost a road game to the Utes in their only matchup a year ago, snapping a 12-game win streak in the series. Utah (10-3) opened Pac-12 play Sunday with a 76-60 win over Colorado.

Stanford heads to Los Angeles to face two teams that were undefeated until the start of Pac-12 play this week - USC on Thursday and UCLA on Sunday. The Cardinal has won five straight vs. the Trojans and beat the Bruins in their only matchup last season.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

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AP

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."