No. 1 Wildcats hang on

STANFORD, Calif. — For nearly 9 minutes, Arizona made defensive stop after stop. In that critical sequence, the top-ranked Wildcats held Stanford scoreless and helped preserve their perfect start to the season.

This confident, unbeaten group believes it should be doing that all game long. For Arizona, three straight defensive stops is called a "kill."

Nick Johnson kept Arizona's unblemished record going for another game, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds remaining and two free throws with 5.8 seconds left as Arizona survived for a 60-57 victory Wednesday night for its school-record 21st straight win.

"We're an outstanding defensive team. It isn't as if we changed any scheme, we just buckled down and had a lot of players playing very hard, and our ability to hold them to what we did is a big reason we won. Our defense won the game tonight," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "No question we have to execute better on offense and we have to be more confident at the line."

After Johnson hit a jumper in the middle of the key with 2:36 remaining to make it 55-53, Dwight Powell answered on a baseline drive with 1:21 to go before Johnson delivered once more.

Johnson finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and T.J. McConnell added 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists for Arizona (21-0, 8-0 Pac-12), off to the program's best start in conference play in more than a decade.

Arizona is one of three unbeaten teams left in Division I, joining No. 2 Syracuse, which also won Wednesday night. Fourth-ranked Wichita State hasn't lost either.

Powell and Josh Huestis each scored 13 points for Stanford (13-7, 4-4), which outshot Arizona 38 percent to 36 percent.

"For 38 minutes, I thought we were right there," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "Credit Arizona for making the plays they had to make at the end. Nick Johnson stepping up, whether at the foul line or whether it was a 3-point bucket late. I've watched a lot of tape of them, he's done it all year."

Johnson missed a free throw with 28 seconds left and Stanford called timeout. Huestis missed a 3 from the left wing and Aaron Gordon secured the rebound, but he also missed a free throw giving the Cardinal one final shot.

Chasson Randle missed a long 3 just before the final buzzer for Stanford.

After a 3-pointer by Huestis with 10:03 remaining, Stanford didn't score again until Powell's layin at 1:21 — and Powell missed two free throws at 4:36 that would have put his team ahead.

"That's what we should have done the whole game. We came out a little lackadaisical and after that we turned it up when the sense of urgency turned up, and after that we kind of locked down," Gordon said. "It was good to come on the road and get a win, regardless of whether we won by 20 or we won by three like we did."

Arizona, ranked No. 1 for a school-record eighth consecutive week, overcame a slow start on the way to an eighth straight win against Stanford.

The Cardinal beat two Top 25 teams already with victories at then-No. 10 Connecticut and at then-No. 17 Oregon earlier this month.

But not this time given their struggles in the waning moments at Maples Pavilion, which hosted a No. 1 men's team for the first time since losing 72-69 to Arizona on March 1, 2003.

The Wildcats had a large contingent of fans in the crowd cheering "U of A! U of A!"

Anthony Brown beat the halftime buzzer with a basket to put Stanford ahead 31-30. Arizona had trailed at halftime several times already this season only to produce a big second half.

Arizona is on such a roll the players expect to win, even when they might not be at their best in a hostile environment.

"One of the things we need to do is play defense at a high level more consistently and I think that will help us out a lot," forward Brandon Ashley said. "When we were down, we weren't thinking about being down. For any team to be competitive, at any level, you have to be confident in yourself." Stanford's last home win against a No. 1 team came against Arizona, 82-74, on Feb. 4, 1988.

Arizona State 89,California 78, OT

At Berkeley, Calif., Jahii Carson scored 11 points in overtime and Arizona State got another big game out of transfer Jermaine Marshall to help the Sun Devils beat California.

Carson finished with 29 points and seven assists for Arizona State (16-5, 5-3 Pac-12), which won its third straight despite blowing a 16-point lead in the second half.

The Sun Devils, who needed a tying 3-pointer from Marshall to force overtime, recovered and outscored the Golden Bears 17-6 in the extra period. Arizona State made 12 of 16 free throws down the stretch.

Marshall, a graduate transfer who spent the past three seasons at Penn State, had 22 points and six rebounds, while Shaquielle McKissic scored 12.

Justin Cobbs had 21 points for Cal (14-7, 5-3) and Tyrone Wallace added 20.

Carson scored 11 points in the first half then went quiet in the second before leading Arizona State's charge in overtime. He opened the extra period with his only 3-pointer of the game, then made eight straight free throws to help the Sun Devils pull away.

That helped secure Arizona State's second straight win over Cal following five consecutive losses. It also kept coach Herb Sendek's team unbeaten since a 23-point loss to No. 1 Arizona on Jan. 16.

It didn't come easily.

Cal rallied from 16 points down in the second half and took a 70-69 lead on Cobbs' driving layup around 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski with 44.8 seconds left. David Kravish added a pair of free throws before Marshall's third 3-pointer of the game with 17.7 seconds remaining tied it.

Cobbs had a chance to win it in regulation but missed a 19-footer at the buzzer.

Arizona State took advantage of Cal's early shooting problems and took a 16-5 lead on Eric Jacobsen's short hook shot.

Despite playing most of the first half without Bachynski — the nation's leading shot-blocker — the Sun Devils also got a big lift from their defense. Sendek's team tipped away several passes and didn't allow a shot attempt closer than seven feet until a layup by Cobbs with 13:19 left in the half.

That sparked a brief run by the Bears, who pulled within 22-18 on another Cobbs layup before Carson and Bo Barnes scored on consecutive trips down the floor to help the Sun Devils pull away.

Marshall scored five straight points before McKissic added four, including a thunderous one-handed dunk after stealing the ball from Cobbs to extend Arizona State's lead to 42-30 at halftime.

The Sun Devils kept up the defensive pressure in the second half and led by as much as 16 until the Bears made a run and closed within 57-52 on Richard Solomon's dunk with 9:58 remaining.

Bachynski helped get Arizona State back on track. He scored on a short layup then blocked a shot that led to a 3-pointer from Marshall to make it 64-54. Cobbs took over from there, scoring six of Cal's next 10 points on layups. His drive past Bachynski cut the Sun Devils' lead to 65-64 with 3:18 remaining and set up the tight finish.

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