Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week Nine

Posted by Andrew Murawa on January 19th, 2015

Each week the Pac-12 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, which typically will include a Team, Player and Newcomer of the Week, along with our weekly Power Rankings.

Team of the Week: Arizona

T.J. McConnell And The Wildcats Issued A Serious Statement In Their Win Over Utah on Saturday (Rick Scuteri, AP Photo)

T.J. McConnell And The Wildcats Issued A Serious Statement In Their Win Over Utah on Saturday (Rick Scuteri, AP Photo)

It was the Pac-12 game of the year to this point: surging challenger to the throne, Utah, against reeling returning champion, Arizona. Both teams took care of business in their undercard games on Thursday, but by the time the main event rolled around on Saturday evening, the McKale Center was a hornet’s nest. The challenger came out of its corner full of vim and vigor, seeking the knockout. But the veteran champion weathered the storm and turned on the power in the final three-quarters of the bout, displaying the whole package of explosive athleticism, wily game knowledge, superior conditioning and, well, a boost of energy from the home crowd. In the end, the Wildcats turned in a smothering performance, displaying their high-end defensive ability with their great offensive potential. If there were any questions about Arizona after last week’s head-scratcher against Oregon State – and trust me, there were – the Wildcats answered most of them on Saturday night in affirming their status as one of the nation’s elite.

Player of the Week: T.J. McConnell, Senior, Arizona

Five minutes into that heavyweight bout on Saturday night, the Utes were clearly acting as the aggressor. They were out to a 10-2 lead; their superstar Delon Wright was doing everything; and Arizona looked flat. Out of the under-16 media timeout, McConnell immediately made a statement play. He headed right up the court and took the undersized Brandon Taylor down to the left block where he put a jumper right on his head. Next time up and again on Taylor, he did the exact same thing on the other side of the court. Next time on the defensive end, he stripped Wright and dove on the floor to get a tie-up. All of a sudden, Arizona had some energy and belief. Through the rest of the first half, McConnell hit three more jumpers, added a layup, notched a couple assists and grabbed a steal. The most important of those plays may have been the two assists, one a driving handoff to Kaleb Tarczewski for a lay-in, and another a baseline kickout to Brandon Ashley for a jumper. Both of those plays ensured that McConnell was not only involved but was busy keeping his talented teammates involved. On the night, McConnell wound up with 16 points (12 before halftime), six assists, three boards and a steal on 8-of-10 shooting, numbers that only hint at his true impact.

Newcomer of the Week: Stanley Johnson, Freshman, Arizona

Johnson’s Saturday night was quite a bit different than McConnell’s. While Johnson’s final numbers (18 points, nine boards, two steals on 6-of-12 from the field) compare strongly with his point guard’s, Johnson’s damage came entirely after halftime as he put on a show with his athleticism and toughness. Next step, put it all together for large stretches of time on a nightly basis. Don’t worry, it will come.

(Also receiving votes: Robert Upshaw)

Game of the Year Candidate

Occasionally we’re going to do a new thing in this spot where we recognize a great basketball game and put it in the running for our Game of the Year recap at the end of the season. This week it was Washington State and Oregon’s offensive explosion that resulted in overtime that gave us the idea, so we’re going to retroactively include the previous games of UCLA/Stanford, Utah/Wichita State and Utah/BYU among our list of this year’s best games. But let’s focus on this week’s nominee, an 82-possession epic that was so wildly entertaining that 40 minutes could not contain it. There wasn’t a ton of honest-to-goodness hard-nosed defense in this one, but that’s the way we like it sometimes. This game was all about offense. Seventeen different players earned at least 10 minutes of game action, and 15 of those guys put forth individual KenPom offensive ratings of 103 or better. Joe Young went off for 32 points. DaVonte Lacy had maybe his best game of the season with 24 efficient points. Josh Hawkinson continued to amaze with a 26/13 night, including a couple nice blocks. Elgin Cook contributed 26 points and several dunks. Ike Iroegbu busted out with 20 points and five dimes. Even Brett Boese turned in the best game of his career with 16 points, including four threes. And down the stretch? Wild. There were 11 possessions of consequence after the final media timeout in regulation. The offensive team scored on nine of those at a clip of 1.64 points per possession. Hey, I’ve got nothing inherently against a grind-it-out 50-49 game, but variety is the spice of life and a game tied at 94 at the end of regulation is definitely on the rare side.

Power Rankings


Last week was the first time Utah finally claimed the top spot in our power rankings by unanimous decree, so, of course, they were killed by the second-place team and their placements were flipped. Elsewhere, Stanford came in unanimously at third, while the bottom five spots all remained the same. This week’s biggest mover was UCLA, which jumped up to the fourth spot with their current three-game winning streak.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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