Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona Wildcats Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 31st 2023

Caleb Love has been heating up as a scorer for No. 4 Arizona heading into Sunday’s Pac-12 Conference contest at Stanford.

Love, a senior transfer from North Carolina, has scored at least 20 points in four of the past five games, including 22 on Friday night in a 100-81 victory at Cal in the conference opener for the Wildcats (10-2, 1-0).

Love, averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game, arrived with a reputation of a high-volume shooter, but he’s also pulling down 5.2 rebounds per game, dishing out an average of 3.4 assists and playing high-level defense.

“He has a poise about him and he knows where he can pick and choose his spots,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “He has tremendous confidence.”

With Love leading the way, Arizona entered the weekend leading the nation in scoring at 93.2 points per game. The Wildcats on Friday reached triple-digit points for the fourth time this season and the first time in a conference game since beating Washington State 100-72 on Jan. 31, 2018.

Lloyd figures his team has more in the tank after it was outscored 55-46 by Cal in the second half after leading 54-26 at halftime.

“Our guys played with great spirit and great energy,” Lloyd said. “Sometimes it’s hard to sustain that effort. Give Cal credit. (Coach Mark Madsen) is going to have his team come out with pride in the second half and they really did.”

Stanford (5-6, 0-1) is coming off a heartbreaking 76-73 home loss to Arizona State in which it didn’t trail until the final minute.

“Hugely disappointing for us,” Stanford coach Jerod Haase said. “Had a lead for much of the game and weren’t able to finish down the stretch.

“It’s my job as a head coach to make sure I’m putting my players in a position to succeed. I need to do a better job of that. As much as it stings, we need to break down the tape, get as much information as we can to the guys that’s going to help them and then try and prepare for Arizona.”

The good news for Stanford was that Spencer Jones returned after not playing since Dec. 3 because of a leg injury. He played 26 minutes off the bench, scoring nine points and shooting 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He is averaging 11.6 points in seven games, six starts.

Maxime Raynaud leads the Cardinal in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounding (9.6).

The 7-foot-1 center will have a challenge down low against Oumar Ballo, who has double-doubles in each of his past three games. He is Arizona’s second-leading scorer (13.3) and top rebounder (8.3).

All five Arizona starters average at least 11.4 points, and Ballo’s backup, 7-foot-2 Motiejus Krivas is at 8.2 points per game. He poured in 18 in 18 minutes at Cal, shooting 6 of 7 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

He’s part of the core eight-man rotation that Lloyd used through the toughest games on Arizona’s nonconference schedule, but wing Filip Borovicanin (14 minutes in six points at Cal) likely will get more run during the Pac-12 season to help keep the roster fresh for March.

–Field Level Media

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