Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.13.12 EditionPosted by AMurawa on January 13th, 2012
- It’s tough to decide where to begin on another wild night in the Pac-12, but we’ll have to go with our RTC Game of the Week between Colorado and California in Berkeley, the game with the biggest impact on the conference race. The Golden Bears handed the Buffaloes their first conference loss of the season, and overcame a horrendous shooting night from their two stars, as senior Jorge Gutierrez and sophomore Allen Crabbe combined to hit just four of their combined 26 field goal attempts. However, they rode senior forward Harper Kamp down the stretch, as he out-dueled Colorado’s senior Austin Dufault in a battle between two unlikely stars. In the end, however, California’s experience paid off, as the Buffs suffered through some bad shots in the closing minutes and sealed their fate with an unfortunate turnover with just under a minute left, followed up by their failure to secure a defensive rebound following a missed Cal foul shot. While the game was tight throughout, the Buffs’ failure to come through in the clutch was entirely predictable for a young team playing its first road game since the late 60s. Or something like that.
- Across the San Francisco Bay and south a bit, Stanford was having some unlikely trouble with expected Pac-12 cellar contender Utah, who turned in its third-straight extremely solid performance in losing by just three despite coming into the game a 22-point underdog. The Utes fought back from a seven-point half-time deficit to actually lead the game through much of the early part of the second half. However, it was Cardinal sophomore forward Josh Huestis who provided the heroics, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half on six-for-six shooting (including a three) and grabbing ten total rebounds. He did miss all three of his foul shots, but that was de rigeur for the evening, as the teams combined to shoot just six-of-26 from the charity stripe, with Utah especially kicking itself by missing all but one of its nine free throw attempts. Larry Krystkowiak’s club simply does not have the talent to give away those types of points and pull out road victories. Likewise, while Johnny Dawkins will take this win and look forward to a tough battle with Colorado on Saturday, knowing they are tied with Cal atop the Pac-12 standings, this was not a win that inspired a ton of confidence.
- Oregon State dropped its second consecutive overtime game Thursday night, losing to Arizona in 15 less minutes than they required on Saturday night. Does that qualify as progress? The game was marred somewhat by a little scuffle late in the overtime period, following a fast break layup by Kyle Fogg that put the Wildcats up six, during which Fogg drew the fourth foul on OSU guard Jared Cunningham. Following the play, Fogg started yapping at Cunningham, which drew a shove in retaliation. From there, the Arizona bench came close to emptying, some Oregon State players came onto the court and there was some general pushing and shoving that resulted in Cunningham and Fogg both earning technical fouls – the fifth personals for each – and Kyryl Natyazkho and Joe Burton being ejected for leaving their benches. While the whole thing was stupid and immature, special demerits go to Fogg and teammate Solomon Hill, upperclassmen who are supposed to be the leaders of this Wildcat team, both of whom acted like anything but leaders. Lost in all that was Arizona freshman Nick Johnson breaking out of a mini-slump by hitting three threes on his way to 19 points in a complete performance that included a offensive rebound slam just before the dustup. Cunningham was also big for the Beavs, scoring 22 points, but it was Ahmad Starks who caught fire at the end of regulation, scoring seven points on three straight possessions, preceded by a beautiful strip of Hill on a fastbreak, to get Oregon State into overtime. Nevertheless, the Beavers fall to 1-4 in conference play, while the Wildcats keep pace with Stanford, Cal, Colorado, and Washington atop the conference with just one loss.
- Lastly, Oregon scored the lone road victory of the night in the conference, going into Arizona State and coming out with a workmanlike nine-point win. Just looking at the stat sheet, this was an incredibly tight game in a lot of areas, but it again came down to the fact that the Sun Devils just don’t have a point guard able to run this team effectively. Junior guard Trent Lockett did his best playing out of position, scoring 23 points on eight-of-11 shooting, grabbing four rebounds and handing out five assists, but he turned it over seven times and Arizona State turned it over 16 times as a unit, while forcing just eight turnovers by the Ducks. Oregon was led by senior Devoe Joseph who had 15 points, three threes, four steals, and four assists.
- Looking ahead to the weekend, we have a couple of big rivalry games on Sunday, including Washington hosting Washington State. Last year, the Cougs swept the season series in a couple of games that weren’t really that close. This year, however, the Washington State defense has been particularly bad, in part due to the premature losses of interior presence DeAngelo Casto and underrated perimeter defender Klay Thompson. Given that the Husky defense hasn’t been much to write home about either, we could be in for quite the shootout in the hardwood version of the Apple Cup.