With Grant Jerrett unable to play because of injury and two of Arizona's other freshmen big men struggling, head coach Sean Miller turned to a player who he has agonized over sitting.
Angelo Chol, a sparkplug who has accepted his inconsistent playing time, provided a boost off the bench Wednesday, and two of the seventh-ranked Wildcats' senior leaders guided the ship in the second half of a 73-66 win over Stanford at McKale Center.
"If Angelo wasn't able to have come in and perform, we would not have won tonight," said Miller, who played the forward for a career-high 24 minutes.
Chol, who finished with six points and career-high eight rebounds, earned the extended role because Brandon Ashley could not stay out of foul trouble and Kaleb Tarczewski was ineffective in 13 minutes. Meanwhile, Jerrett did not play because of "a stress reaction of the lowest grade" in his foot, and his status for Sunday is questionable depending on whether he practices before the meeting against California.
Point guard Mark Lyons turned in his most complete performance as a Wildcat with a season-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go with six assists. Forward Solomon Hill added 20 of his 23 points after halftime, as the Wildcats (20-2, 8-2 Pac-12 Conference) shot a blistering 60 percent to pull out the come-from-behind victory.
"I picked it up," said Hill, who shot 7 of 13 from the floor and 7 of 10 at the free-throw line. "I started off pretty terrible, but you have to put that behind you and keep pressing."
Arizona trailed by a point at the half, and it was a barrier the Wildcats had trouble breaking through for more than a half of play. But a Lyons layup gave UA its first lead of the contest, 38-37, with 14:33 to play.
The Cardinal (14-9, 5-5 Pac-12) answered quickly, however, and rebuilt a five-point lead a little more than a minute later.
Down the stretch in a see-saw affair, Lyons took over and displayed a playmaker's side of himself as he continues to grow into more of a floor general. But he did so with an unlikely partner in Chol, who is known more for his defense and hustle than his ability to score.
"Mark not only scored tonight, but he made his teammates better," Miller said.
Tied at 54 with 4:44 to play, Lyons found the sophomore for an easy basket. Then, on the following UA possession, the 6-1 guard popped open on a backdoor cut to the basket for an uncontested layup that pushed the advantage to 58-54 at the 3:34 mark.
After Aaron Bright responded with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to a point, Lyons answered right back with his third 3-pointer of the night.
"My teammates got me in good position by setting great screens and my shot was clicking," Lyons said.
Leading by four, Hill then delivered the dagger with a dunk with 1:07 remaining and iced the game with two free throws inside the final minute.
Dwight Powell scored 18 of his team-leading 24 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace Stanford. Bright added 16 points - but was limited to just five after the break.
Arizona finished in a flurry, making 15 of 25 shots after the break despite struggling at under 35 percent through the first 20 minutes. The defense limited the Cardinal to 37.9 percent shooting.
Another slow start plagued the Wildcats, who missed their first five shots and trailed 10-0 to open the contest.
"You can always say we've been here before," Miller joked. "We have great trust that we've done this before.
"But I'm going to address the slow start. … There are a couple - at Washington, UCLA at home, and now tonight - where you start to say to yourself, 'We don't have that confident look that you want.'"
But with 14 minutes still to play in the half, Miller inserted Chol into the game to remedy UA's flat start. Chol's hustle whipped a raucous crowd into a frenzy and helped the Wildcats pull to within 14-12 on his tip-in with 11:32 remaining.
"The guy I want to talk about is Angelo Chol," Miller said, "because there are a couple of games he didn't even get in.
"You always tell the guys that their opportunity will come."
But Stanford withstood the charge and noise, and its defense limited the 'Cats to just two made field goals in their next 10 attempts in a 4 1/2-minute span.
The Cardinal lead grew back up to seven, but the Wildcats closed the final 2:49 with the last six points to cut the deficit to 27-26 heading into halftime.
Miller said afterward that he may change the starting lineup, and "Kevin Parrom, in particular, is a candidate to start."
"I'm going to play five guys out there who have a confident look," Miller said. "We're going to address that over the next couple days."
Click Here to view this Link.Tracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor