Pac-12 Morning Five: Super Bowl Hangover EditionPosted by AMurawa on February 6th, 2012
- Washington sits all alone at the top of the Pac-12 standings after completing a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools this weekend. After struggling in nonconference play, the Huskies now control their own fate in the league and have one of the easier remaining schedules in conference play. While they only have two of their remaining seven games at home, the combined conference record of their remaining opponents is just 33-44. It is interesting to note that the two teams directly behind them in the standings, California and Colorado, are in a similar boat, having to play five of their final seven games on the road as well. Washington has historically struggled on the road in recent years, but this year they are 3-1 away from home in conference play.
- Colorado is one of the teams lurking a game back of the Huskies, and they are there on the strength of a last-second victory over Oregon on Saturday night. The Buffaloes remained perfect at home in Pac-12 play when senior guard Nate Tomlinson, with the game tied and just four seconds remaining, took the ball the length of the floor and drew a block from Oregon junior E.J. Singler with just one second left on the clock. He hit the first of his two free throws, then purposefully missed the second one, and the Buffaloes escaped with a hard-fought win. The call on the Tomlinson/Singler play at the end of the game was controversial, to say the least. The video is below. Jump to the 45 second mark for the full final scenario and decide for yourself. My call? Swallow the whistle, ref, and let’s play five more.
3. California is tied with the Buffs in second place after putting a hurting on an undermanned Arizona State squad on Saturday. Cal forced 20 ASU turnovers, converted those miscues into 34 points and were never seriously challenged in a 68-47 victory. The only downsides of the game for the Golden Bears were a couple of injuries, a sprained ankle suffered by leading scorer Allen Crabbe in the second half, and a dislocated finger for Harper Kamp. Mike Montgomery dismissed the injuries after the game, but they may be something worth keeping an eye on next week as the Bears travel south for games with the Los Angeles schools next weekend.
4. The biggest accomplishments of the weekend belong to Sean Miller and his Arizona team, who went into the Bay Area and came out with a two-game road sweep. The Wildcats capped off the weekend by completely discombobulating the Stanford offense, holding the Cardinal to just a 27.8% eFG and just six assists on their 16 field goals. Kyle Fogg was excellent all weekend for the ‘Cats, displaying heady defense in both games and coming away with 37 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals, a couple blocks and eight three-pointers for the trip. The young Wildcat backcourt tandem of Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner also displayed excellent defensive intensity throughout the road trip, and while their offense is still a work in progress, they may be playing their best ball as a duo of their young careers.
5. Lastly, we have a Joshua Smith sighting. UCLA’s sophomore big man had his first set of back-to-back double-figure scoring games in Pac-12 play this weekend, backing up his career-high of 24 points on Thursday night with another 19 in a three-point Bruin win at Washington State. Despite dealing with constant good-natured verbal abuse from the home crowd in his return to his home state this weekend, Smith seems to be coming along just in time for a stretch run for UCLA. He hit 17 of his 22 field goal attempts this weekend, averaged seven rebounds a night, and was actually seen sprinting down the court on a semi-regular basis. Given the depths to which Smith’s conditioning plummeted at the start of this season, whether you’re a UCLA supporter or not, it is good to see a kid who is working towards being able to fulfill his ample potential.