Maybe this is why
everyone said the conference is down. It's early, but the conference
appears to be everything we thought—and less. Puzzling home losses by
conference front runners Arizona, Washington and Cal marked the Pac-10's
second weekend, with UCLA gaining momentum as we head into week three of
games are not played on paper—or in Las Vegas for that matter…Arizona
went into last Thursday’s tilt with UCLA playing perhaps their best
basketball of the season. Indeed, the Wildcats were not only riding a seven
game win streak, but they were also fresh off a victory at Washington, where
they fought back to beat the Huskies after being down 13 at the half.
the Bruins limping in—injuries to starters Ryan Hollins and Cedric Bozeman,
not to mention contributor Michael Fey, limited UCLA to only nine
scholarship players (now reduced to 8 following Josh Shipp's season ending
injury)—it seemed Arizona would have no problem covering the
10.5 point spread. Just a week earlier, Cal took advantage of the depleted
Bruins, beating them at Pauley Pavilion 66-61.
buoyed by the fantastic individual performance by Arron Afflalo and pinpoint
perimeter shooting from the field, UCLA beat Arizona 85-79, marking the
first win for Bruins in Tucson since 1997.
nothing if not efficient. The sophomore scored 20 points on only 11 shots,
including a memorable running bank shot with a little over three minutes
left that stemmed an Arizona run.
Arizona lost despite
forcing 23 turnovers, and though Hassan Adams' numbers were solid, he was a
non-factor on the boards for much of the game. Also, Mustafa Shakur was
terrible. He didn't score, missing all three of his shots from the field and
both of his free throws. Clearly, the Wildcats can't win without consistent
effort out of those two.
time is the charm…If
UCLA’s performance at Arizona was surprising, then Washington State’s 78-71
victory over arch-rival Washington was astonishing.
without leading scorer Derrick Low, who broke his foot in practice earlier
in the week, Washington State twice overcame 13-point deficits to shock the
Huskies. Josh Akognon scored 27 for the Cougars, including a tie breaking
three-pointer and two free throws in the final 17.8 seconds.
Washington State’s first ever win on the road versus a top 10 team after 52
winning 32 games in a row at home, Washington has lost two of their last
three at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. They now hit the road—a place they have
visited only once this season—for five of their next seven games, putting
the Huskies’ once promising season at a significant crossroads.
a doubt, Oregon State played its best game of the season Saturday, as they
took down the Cal Bears 72-64. The Beavers shot 54% and committed only 12
DeWitz, who had been struggling, led the Oregon State attack with 18 points
and Marcel Jones contributed his second consecutive double double. Shooting
only 18% from beyond the arc coming into the game, DeWitz hit all three of
his three-point attempts.
was a wasted opportunity for Cal. A win against the lowly Beavers—who had
lost 14 straight road games—and the Bears would have had sole possession of
first place, one game ahead of both UCLA and Arizona.
didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck at all…Arizona
State lost in the waning moments twice over the weekend. On Thursday, USC’s
Lodrick Stewart corralled a loose ball and hit a game winning three-pointer
with just over two seconds left to beat the Sun Devils 66-65.
Saturday, it was Jordan Farmar’s lay up right before the buzzer that gave
UCLA a 61-60 win. It was the first time the Sun Devils have lost
consecutive games by one point since 1983.
One has to
feel a bit for Rob Evans; his team plays hard, but he has very little talent
to work with. With virtually no post presence whatsoever, their offense
revolves around Kevin Krueger, and while Lon’s son is a nice perimeter
shooter, he cannot create his own shot. Arizona State will be lucky to win
four conference games this year, which still won’t be enough to save Evans’
to go against Washington State’s Josh Akognon, who pumped in 27 in the
Cougars momentous upset of Washington. The sophomore’s performance was even
more impressive when you considering he was averaging just over eight points
per game coming into the contest. After the win, the Cougars are now a
surprising 9-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
the Washington Huskies are ranked 13th nationally, they are under
.500 in Pac-10 play, which places them in an early must win scenario this
Thursday at USC. A loss to the Trojans would put Washington in the
unenviable position of being 1-3 going into Saturday’s tilt versus UCLA…
gets a tremendous boost this week when guard Jawaan McClennan returns from
an academic suspension that has kept him out all season. The sophomore is
the Wildcats best returning three-point shooter from a year ago and his
presence should be a welcome addition for a team currently shooting 31% from
beyond the arc.