NCAA

Cold-shooting Stanford routed by No. 18 Arizona

arizona-stanford-ap.jpg
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.

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

quinnenwilliamsalabamausatsi.jpg
USATSI

Quinnen Williams, possible Raiders draft target, misses mark in Alabama's loss

SANTA CLARA -- Quinnen Williams proved Monday night that he can talk a big game, even if he doesn’t play one.

The Alabama defensive tackle, whom many project to be a top-five pick if he leaves school for the 2019 NFL draft, didn’t exactly show out in the College Football Playoff National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. The redshirt sophomore finished with just four total tackles (three solo, one assist) and 1.5 for loss.

Williams went relatively unnoticed in Clemson’s 44-16 rout, except for this first-quarter stop that showcased his power.

Williams, who entered the game tied for second on the Crimson Tide with eight sacks this season, didn’t register any noticeable pass rush -- to be fair, no one on Alabama did -- as the Tigers handily won the title.

Still, Williams wasn’t that impressed by what he saw from the now-national champions.

“They really didn’t do anything that caught us off guard,” Williams said. “We knew everything that was coming. They ran zone. They ran go routes, 50-50 balls.

“[Clemson QB] Trevor Lawrence threw the ball, and it looked like he put it on the money. He didn’t drop dimes, none of that. He threw it up, and the receivers made plays. All the respect to the receivers.”

While Williams later called Lawrence “good,” his comments were reminiscent of his pre-Orange Bowl words on Kyler Murray, when he smartly stopped himself from criticizing Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Williams showed no such restraint this time, and while you could chalk it up to the hurt of losing a national title game, NFL teams surely will ask him in pre-draft interviews about how he'll handle such situations.

As for his NFL draft status, Williams didn’t want to say much, claiming he really hadn’t thought about the possibility of turning pro after the season.

“I don’t know yet, man,” he said. “I got to go home, watch this film first, get with my teammates and let them know, man, everything.”

New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, whose team has been linked to Williams with the No. 4 overall pick in numerous mock drafts, saw the defensive tackle in person Monday. Whether he liked what he saw or heard remains to be seen over the next three months.

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

hopkinssmokeap.jpg
AP

DeAndre Hopkins explains how Clemson keeps producing NFL-level talent

SANTA CLARA -- The Clemson Tigers came into Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship with a shorter list of 2019 NFL Draft talents than their counterparts, the Alabama Crimson Tide. But not if you ask some notable alumni.

To Houston Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the next wave of NFL stars are Tigers.

“The way they prepare here at Clemson, the strength and condition program, Joey Batson and Larry Greenlee do a good job of getting those guys ready for the next level," Hopkins told NBC Sports Bay Area after Clemson's stunning 44-16 blowout win in the title game at Levi's Stadium. "I think they’re definitely ready for the next level."

Clemson has produced 29 picks in the last five NFL drafts. The last time the program didn't have one of its players called come April was all the way back in 2002.

Watching with former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson, Vic Beasley Jr., Mike Williams, and Tajh Boyd, Hopkins witnessed one of the greatest teams in college football history. The 2018 Tigers accomplished a feat 121 years in the making, becoming the first FBS football team to go 15-0 or 16-0 since Penn in 1897.

“To me, it means a lot. I’m from Clemson, S.C., so to see this team do what they did … I think they are (the greatest ever)," Hopkins said. "I think they can be one of the best teams ever. Do it again next year, for sure.”

The last statement is what means the most to Hopkins and everyone else who once wore a Clemson Tigers jersey. Coach Dabo Swinney took to the podium immediately after the win and said he'll soak it all up now, but he'll get back to film Friday and start preparing for next season.

“I think this is the next dynasty," Hopkins said. "Deshaun Watson started it by winning a national championship here. I think those guys are going to continue it.

"I think they’re gonna be here next year and the year after.”

That's not hard to imagine, either.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence wowed with his precision passing, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His top target, Justyn Ross, made one-handed catches as a recently turned 19-year-old and finished the night with six catches for 148 yards and two TDs.

Clemson made its fourth playoff clash with Alabama look easy. The biggest names in the NFL know, too, that these could be the next stars of not only Saturdays but Sundays before we know it.