Checking in on the… Pac-10Posted by rtmsf on December 27th, 2008
Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.
- Stanford is the only team left undefeated in the Pac-10 at 8-0. First year coach Johnny Dawkins has the Cardinal off to their best start since 2003-04 when they ran off 26 straight.
- USC finally beat a BCS opponent by trouncing Georgia Tech. The Trojans are still way too inconsistent though, the game before they barely could handle North Dakota State.
- Arizona freshman stud Jeff Withey must have seen something about Kansas he liked because Withey declared he is transferring there as of next semester.
- The Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List has been released and it contains five Pac-10 players, senior forward Jon Brockman of Washington, junior forward Chase Budinger of Arizona, senior guard Darren Collison of UCLA, junior forward Taj Gibson of USC, and sophomore guard James Harden of Arizona State. Harden continues to make a strong case for player of the year with his fourth 30-point game this year. He stands the best chance for it from the Pac-10, with Collison next.
- The Pac-10 has their defining win with Arizona’s victory over Gonzaga, but still had a weak out of conference showing. The only teams that are lock for the tournament right now are UCLA and Arizona State, after that Arizona surprisingly looks to be the next best bet, with an ever improving USC closing in. If Cal or Stanford can keep rolling through once conference play starts they will have a chance. Washington State needs to win at LSU to stand any chance.
Player of the week- Michael Roll
With Josh Shipp going down someone on UCLA had to step up and it has been the 6-5 junior Roll. In his two starts in Shipp’s place this week he averaged 20.5 points and shot 9-for-12 from 3-point range. Roll had a 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio and it looks like even when Shipp gets back Coach Ben Howland will need to find minutes for this kid.
Darren Collison of UCLA who averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 assists in the Bruins’ 2-0 week. James Harden of Arizona State who averaged 24 points per game and 5.5 rebounds this week for the Sun Devils. Jordan Hill of Arizona finished with two double-doubles, averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds this week. Freshman Demar DeRozan of USC who averaged 17.5 points a game and had the go-ahead-basket for the Trojans against North Dakota State.
Team of the week: UCLA
Since the loss in Texas, UCLA has won five straight by 17 or more. The Bruins won the two games this week by an average of 34 points. They found another option in Michael Roll, expanding their already vast array of contributors.
Game of the week:
Arizona State’s one point victory over BYU was the best game of the week. The Sun Devils gave a good BYU squad their first loss of the year. It came down to a last second shot, deemed by the officials as after the buzzer. James Harden put the Sun Devils on his back and attacked the hoop in a variety of ways.
Best game of the upcoming week:
12/27 Washington State at LSU – The Cougars are playing in Baton Rouge against a 9-1 Tigers squad. Both teams are still looking for an impressive win for their resumes and this could be it. Will LSU center Chris Johnson be able to stop Aron Baynes inside? Can Klay Thompson slow down LSU guard Marques Thornton who is averaging over 21 points the last six games?
1. UCLA (9-2)
Last week: 12/20 W 76-59 over Mercer at home, 12/23 W 113-62 over Wyoming at home
Next week: 12/28 at home vs. Louisiana Tech
UCLA had a fairly easy week with wins over Mercer and Wyoming at home. The Bruins were forced to play without Josh Shipp against Mercer because of a sprained ligament in his left thumb, but reserve Michael Roll filled in and UCLA didn’t miss a beat. Roll scored 16 points in his first start this year. The junior shot 4 for 5 from 3-point range. Darren Collison scored a team-high 20 points. Alfred Aboya added 14 points and seven rebounds. It was a tough Mercer team who had already won at Alabama and Auburn in November. Collison held the leading scorer James Florence to only nine points, eight below his season average. The win over Wyoming was a game of career-highs. In Roll’s second straight start for injured Shipp, Roll scored a career-high 25 points in only 26 minutes. He shot 5 for 7 from three-point range. After averaging 5.7 points in 15.3 minutes in the first nine games this year, Roll has averaged 20. 5 points in 29.5 minutes in his two starts for Shipp. UCLA’s 113 points were the most the Bruins scored since scoring 114 against Cal State Northridge December 19th, 1998. Freshman Malcolm Lee scored a career-high 16 points and freshman Drew Gordon had 14 points and 11 rebounds, both career-highs.
2. Arizona State (10-1)
Last week: 12/20 W 76-75 over BYU at home, 12/23 W 90-55 over Idaho State at home
Next week: 12/29 at home vs. Central Conneticut State
Arizona State had the same outcome for both of the games this week, but the games could have not been any more different. The BYU win came down to an overturned call, while the Idaho State win was a thorough domination. BYU came into the game undefeated, but this was their first chance at a win over a quality opponent. It looked like BYU got it when Charles Abouo’s shot went through the net, but it was overturned after the referees decided it left his fingertips after the buzzer. BYU had the lead the entire second half, by as much as 10 points, until Ty Abbott hit a three pointer to knot it up at 73 with 2:05 left. James Harden continuously attacked the basket, shooting 16-of-21 from the line, both career-highs. Harden finished with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists. It was Harden’s fourth 30-point game this year, but the first time he did so without hitting a three pointer. Jeff Pendergraph also played well finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. After shooting only 5-of-17 from downtown against BYU, the Sun Devils shot 17-of-32 against Idaho State. The 17 3-pointers are a school record. A 17 point halftime lead turned into a 45 point win. All five starters finished in double digits. Rihards Kuksiks shot 5-of-6 from 3-point range, Abbott 4-of-6, Derek Glasser 3-of-5, and Harden 3-of-6. Glasser also finished with a career high nine assists. It was the first game that not one starter played over 30 minutes in the game giving them a much needed rest. Arizona State’s 10-1 start matches it’s best in 34 seasons.
3. Arizona (8-3)
Last week: 12/20 L 79-64 at UNLV, W 84-67 over Kansas at home
Next week: 12/29 at home vs. Weber State
After a big win against Gonzaga, the Wildcats had a disappointing loss at UNLV. UNLV guard Wink Adams lit Arizona up for seven 3-pointers including five in the second half. Chase Budinger had a team high 22 points and Jordan Hill finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, but the Wildcats came up short in the second half. Arizona bounced back with a win over visiting Kansas. Hill got 8th double-double of the year with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Nic Wise added 16 points on a perfect 10 for 10 from the free throw line. Sophomore Jamelle Horne had a career-high 19 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Budinger was held to a 5 points on 1 for 9 shooting. It was the first game this year Budinger did not reach double digits. It was also the first game Arizona won without Budinger scoring double digits since December 19th 2007.
4. California (9-2)
Last week: 12/20 W 75-66 over Nevada at home, 12/22 W 83-48 over Colgate at home
Next week: 12/27 at home vs. Dartmouth
Jerome Randle had another big week for the Golden Bears. He scored 23 points and had eight assists against Nevada. Three other players scored in double digits for Cal including Patrick Christopher with 16 points. After a first half in which only 54 points were scored by the two teams combined, both exploded in the second half with 87 points. Nevada’s Armon Johnson led the way scoring 27 of his career-high 33 points in the second half. Nevada still came up short, as Randle scored nine points down the stretch. Against Colgate Cal won easily. Colgate only shot 31% from the field. Christopher scored 15 points including three consecutive long balls in one stretch.
5. USC (8-3)
Last week: 12/20 W 61-57 over North Dakota State at home, 12/22 W 76-57 over Georgia Tech at home
Next week: 12/28 at home vs. Oral Roberts
Demar DeRozan finally had the game that USC faithful had been waiting for, finishing with a career-high 18 points including the go-ahead basket. Another freshman, Leonard Washington, also had a career-high 17 points. Taj Gibson finished with 10 points and matched his career-high with 18 rebounds. North Dakota State pushed ahead by one with a basket from Ben Woodside at the 1:47 mark. DeRozan hit a jumper from the foul line 25 seconds later to give USC the lead for good. USC beat Georgia Tech by 19 points two days later. Dwight Lewis led the way with 19 points, DeRozan had 17 points, and Gibson and Daniel Hackett each chipped in with 15. USC pulled away from Georgia Tech in the second half behind DeRozan who scored the first six points for the Trojans.
6. Stanford (8-0)
Last week: 12/20 W 65-59 over Northwestern at home, 12/22 W 77-69 at Santa Clara
Next week: 12/28 at home vs. Texas Tech, 12/30 at home vs. University of Hartford
Stanford stayed undefeated with two wins last week. Stanford’s win over Northwestern was the toughest opponent it has played yet this year. Northwestern was within two with when Mitch Johnson sunk a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to give Stanford a five point lead. Johnson finished with 16 points for the Cardinal. Anthony Goods scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half to help Stanford to an 11 point halftime lead. Landry Fields led the way with 18 points while Goods’ added 16, and Johnson 14 points for Stanford. The Cardinal had no answer for John Bryant inside as the 6-foot-11, 275-pound center finished with 27 points and 22 rebounds.
7. Washington State (8-3)
Last week: 12/21 W 55-41 at Idaho
Next week: 12/27 at LSU
In a low scoring game Washington State outplayed Idaho in the second half to get a 55-41 victory. Idaho was as close as one point with 11 minutes left, but the Cougars went on a 10-0 run to separate themselves. Aron Baynes finished with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cougars and Tyler Rochestie chipped in 11 points.
8. Washington (7-3)
Last week: 12/20 W 83-50 vs. Eastern Washington
Next week: 12/28 at home vs. Montana, 12/30 at home vs. Morgan State
Washington easily handled Eastern Washington in their only game of the week, but because of a snowstorm the Lehigh game was postponed. Senior Jon Brockman was back on the court after missing the last game due to an ankle injury. He scored 17 points, 12 in the second half. Brockman finished with a season-low five rebounds, six below his season average.
9. Oregon (5-6)
Last week: 12/20 W 79-76 over Portland at home
Next week: 12/29 at home vs. Long Beach State
Tajuan Porter managed to hit the go-ahead basket in overtime despite sitting out the first three minutes because of an injury at the end of regulation. Freshman Garrett Sim led the way with 14 points.
10. Oregon State (4-5)
Last week: 12/20 W 90-54 over Howard at home
Next week: 12/29 at home vs. Seattle
In the Beavers only game of the week they dominated Howard. Omari Johnson led the way with 18 points and six rebounds. Oregon State was seeking redemption from an opening game loss at Howard this year. The Beavers lost 47-45 in Howard’s only victory in the 2008-2009 campaign. Oregon State shot 64% from the field, including 14-for-20 from downtown. The game was never in question as Oregon State opened the game on a 21-2 run and led at half 42-15.