Pac-12 Roundup: Week EightPosted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 7th, 2014
Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the eighth week of Pac-12 basketball.
Power Rankings (as voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa and Adam Butler):
Arizona is once again the unanimous top choice this week, but the only other unanimous pick is Washington State at the bottom. There is a general consensus among the group as to the top six in the league, but after that, things get very interesting. Check the results below.
- Arizona (15-0, 3 Points). Comment: “This doesn’t appear to be one of those blow-the-other-guy-to-smithereens Arizona teams like those that Lute Olson operated, winning by ridiculous, double-figure margins. Saturday’s game might have been the surest preview of what the final 16 games of the Pac-12 season will be.” – Greg Hansen (@ghansen711)
- Colorado (13-2, 7 Points). Comment: “The SDSU-Kansas game has a bigger storyline, but this Oregon-Colorado contest is a much better game. Two second-weekend teams squaring off.” – Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan)
- Oregon (13-1, 9 Points). Comment: “Colorado wasn’t doing anything different defensively than they had all game in the final 10 minutes — Oregon was just missing, missing, and missing some more.” – David Piper (@atqdave)
- UCLA (12-2, 11 Points). Comment: “If you want to win rivalry games by 35 points, go to UCLA.” — Things Andy Enfield may have said.” – Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28)
- California (10-4, 16 Points). Comment: “For portions of the non-conference schedule it seemed like Cal had lost their identify as a rugged defensive team that defined their late season success in 2012-13. But the Bears played great defense against Creighton and it carried over against Stanford.” – Nick Kranz
- Utah (12-2, 17 Points). Comment: “I know it’s Oregon State, but UTES are real.” – Adam Butler (@pachoopsab)
- Arizona State (12-3, 23 Points). Comment: “Against Washington State, Jermaine Marshall’s shot came alive as he posted his second highest scoring total of the season, scoring 26 points in Arizona State’s 66-47 route of the Cougars.” – Ryan Bafaloukos (@RyanBafo)
- Washington (9-6, 24 Points). Comment: “Washington’s strong showings this week, including a 76-65 win at Arizona State, practically erases the previous two months of disappointments. However, the loss to UC Irvine could prove costly if the Huskies find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble.” – Percy Allen (@percyallen)
- Stanford (9-4, 26 Points). Comment: “Sunday’s game at Oregon presents a golden opportunity for the Cardinal, who are currently on my “First Four Out” list.” – Michael Beller (@MBeller)
- Oregon State (8-6, 30 Points). Comment: “Eric Moreland having some offensive rust was to be expected, but it doesn’t account for having a complete lack of inside presence. Colorado and Utah are very good teams, but they do not have a daunting frontcourt that would lead one to expect Oregon State to have future trouble establishing any consistency inside.” – Andy Wooldridge (@BuildingTheDam)
- USC (9-5, 32 Points). Comment: “Note to Andy Enfield, talk trash when you have players.” – Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow)
- Washington State (7-7, 36 Points). Comment: “Hypothetically speaking, if you shot half-court shots for an entire 20:00 minute half, how many points do you think a team would score?” – Brett Ward (@bward09wsu)
Best Game – Oregon @ Utah: The other Oregon game on its Rocky Mountain road trip could easily take this spot, with 20th-ranked Colorado handing the Ducks their first loss in front of a sold out Coors Events Center crowd. However, the Oregon-Utah game three days earlier had a finish that may not be topped for a while. The Ducks came into Salt Lake City as one of seven undefeated teams across the country, but waiting for them in the first game of the Pac-12 season was an 11-1 Utes club with a rowdy home court advantage behind them. Utah led by eight with 12 minutes remaining, but a 17-6 Oregon run sparked by good plays on both ends of the court by sophomore point guard Dominic Artis put the 10th-ranked visitors up 56-53 with under five minutes left. Those last minutes went back and forth and ended with both teams trading a pair of free throws in the final 40 seconds to even the score at 62. Jordan Loveridge had an open look as time expired from the top of the three-point line, but his shot at an upset went long and the battle was extended to overtime. The extra five minutes were similar to the five preceding it, with each basket answered and no team leading by more than two points. Things ended in insane fashion when Ute center Dallin Bachynski had a pass intercepted with four seconds left by Damyean Dotson, who raced down the floor and slammed home the tie-breaking dunk with 0.6 left on the clock, giving Oregon a thrilling 70-68 win.
Upsets: We had two surprising results in the opening week of league play, both coming on the first night. First up was Washington, which just four nights earlier was in a three-point game against Hartford with a minute remaining, going into Tempe and blowing out Arizona State from the opening few minutes. Later that night, California controlled the basketball version of the Big Game on the road against Stanford, leading 37-31 at the half and eventually topping the Cardinal, 69-62.
Team of the Week: Colorado – A lot of teams were considered – Utah, Washington, Arizona, UCLA, California – but in the end we’re going with the Buffaloes for defending its homecourt against the Oregonian invaders, handing the Ducks their first loss of the season and reaffirming what we already knew: It’s going to be awfully hard to go into Boulder this season and come away with a win.
Player of the Week: Askia Booker, Junior, Colorado – And one of the big reasons why the Buffaloes are our team of the week is their junior guard, who seems to light up at the prospect of an important game. Booker went off for 27 points, grabbed seven boards, handed out four dimes and was just generally an irrepressible presence for a Colorado team facing a tough test.
Newcomer of the Week: Mike Moser, Senior, Oregon – The big UNLV transfer gets the nod on the strength of his 24-point, seven-rebound performance against Colorado. On a Ducks’ team with some question marks up front, Moser will continue to be perhaps the single most important piece for Dana Altman.
Freshman of the Week: Aaron Gordon, Freshman, Arizona – Gordon averaged 11.5 points and 10.5 rebounds this week in a pair of wins over the Washington schools – nice numbers and all, but they only begin to tell the whole story. The rest of the tale includes him battling with opposing bigs, stepping out on opposing wings and just generally taking on any defensive assignment, no matter how big or small, with relish.
Upcoming Game of the Week: Arizona @ UCLA – At one point before the season began, this seemed like the top game of the year. UCLA’s struggles against the only marque opponents it faced during the first two months of the season has lessened the appeal of this one a bit, but regardless, it is still the game of the week. The Wildcats and Bruins will meet in an ESPN-televised matchup on Thursday night at 6:00 PM Pacific. An Arizona win would mean another quality victory away from home for the Wildcats to add to their resume in support of a top seed, bolstering wins against San Diego State, Duke and Michigan already. The host Bruins come in at 12-2 and 1-0 in league play after throttling crosstown rival USC on Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.