Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.24.12 EditionPosted by AMurawa on February 24th, 2012
- And then there were two. After skating through its first seven home conference games, Colorado turned in a stinker on Thursday night, getting thoroughly dominated by Stanford in front of their home crowd. The Buffaloes shot just a 33.3% eFG and got badly outrebounded (Stanford grabbed 81.4% of their defensive rebound opportunities and 40% on the offensive end), as sophomore forward Andre Roberson got no help on the boards. CU still has a chance to have a significant impact on the eventual winner of the conference, since they host league-leading California on Sunday afternoon, but barring a wild swing down the stretch, the Buffs are out of the title race. Worse yet, given their tough three-game stretch the rest of the way, they could be well on their way to losing the opening-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Chasson Randle led the Cardinal with 20 points, and was one of three players to knock down three three-pointers on the game.
- Meanwhile, California did what they needed to do, handling Utah in order to set up a battle with the aforementioned Buffaloes on Sunday. Leading scorer Allen Crabbe was held without a point from the field and Justin Cobbs was limited to just five points, but the Golden Bears forced 17 Ute turnovers, took care of the ball on their own end and gutted out a win. The win temporarily puts the Bears alone in first place, with Washington off tonight in advance of their Apple Cup rivalry with Washington State on Saturday.
- While the race for the conference title is rapidly clearing up, we’ve still got some gridlock among the next tier of teams, of which Colorado is now one, as the teams vie to avoid the #5 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and miss out on the four byes through the opening round. Arizona did its homework on Thursday night, putting in a workmanlike effort in a 70-54 win over USC. Freshman point guard Josiah Turner did not start the game, but came off the bench strong and turned in the best game of his career, scoring a career-high 15 points and adding six assists – one shy of his career high – with no turnovers in 31 minutes of action. Senior guard Kyle Fogg also excelled, posting his first career double-double in his second-to-last home game, with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Prior to the game, head coach Sean Miller announced the suspension junior center Kyryl Natyazkho, who had only earned a total of five minutes in the last nine games, for a violation of unspecified team rules.
- A bit up the road in Tempe, Lazeric Jones showed he takes instruction well after head coach Ben Howland encouraged him during the week to shoot more. Jones did just that against Arizona State, shooting 15 times on his way to 20 points and taking over down the stretch as UCLA pulled away from the short-handed Sun Devils. Jones scored 13 of his points in the second half as his team turned a one-point halftime lead into a lead as big as 17. ASU played without junior wing Carrick Felix due to an illness.
- Interesting take from Bud Withers of the Seattle Times on a possible reason why the Pac-12 is down this year, and why it may not get better in the future: demographics. In short, the idea is that because success in basketball is largely dependent on African-Americans, and because the western United States has a lower proportion of African-Americans than other regions, the schools in the Pac-12 may be at a bit of a competitive disadvantage to schools in other regions. At best, this is probably just one of the drops in an otherwise large bucket, as Withers rightly points out that allowing high school recruits from their own backyard to matriculate elsewhere certainly doesn’t help their cause. But, there could be something to look at here going forward.