Pac-12 Basketball Notebook: Four Big Issues of the Week -- and Other Stuff
The four big issues of this past weekend:
---Washington State’s surprising week: The Cougars, picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12, carved out double-digit wins over eighth-ranked Oregon and Oregon State.
---Impressive second-half comebacks (or depressing collapses): Oregon overcame a 16-point deficit with 10:22 left to beat Washington and avoid a crippling, two-game losing streak, and USC rallied from a 21-point deficit with 19:43 remaining to beat Stanford and tie the Cardinal for the top spot in the standings.
---A low for Cal offense: The Bears’ 40 points in their 50-40 loss to UCLA on Sunday were the fewest points by a Cal team in 32 years.
---The windows at the Galen Center: See the stats of the week below, which addresses this issue.
And we forge ahead with our weekly categories:
Top Five Teams (at the Moment)
---1. Oregon (15-4, 4-2) – After the loss at Washington State, the Ducks’ week was on the verge of catastrophe before it overcame a 16-point, second-half deficit to win at Washington.
---2. Arizona (13-5, 3-2) – The Wildcats looked like the team they were supposed to be while beating Utah and Colorado by a combined margin of 37 points.
---3. Colorado (14-4, 3-2) – Despite losing to Arizona by 21 points the Buffaloes remained in the top 25.
---4. USC (15-3, 4-1) – The Trojans have not played any of the three teams above them in these rankings, and a trip to Oregon this week will tell us something.
---5. Stanford (15-3, 4-1) – The Cardinal seemed destined for a top-25 ranking before it blew a 21-point second-half lead against USC.
Pac-12 player-of-the-year standings
---1. Payton Pritchard, Oregon (19.5 points, 5.7 assists, 4.4 rebounds) – His shooting range rivals Steph Curry’s – as Washington can attest.
---2. Onyeka Okongwu, USC (16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 61.7 FG %) – This may be temporary, but he is the best player on a team that is tied for first place at the moment.
---3. McKinley Wright IV, Colorado (13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists) – His nine turnovers on the Arizona trip are rather unsightly.
---4. Tyrell Terry, Stanford (15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 42.7 3-point %) – His play against USC was not impressive, but the Cardinal is still tied for the top spot in the standings.
---5. Tres Tinkle, Oregon State (19.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists) – His numbers suggest he should be higher, but the Beavers are near the bottom of the standings this week.
Pac-12 freshman-of-the-year standings
---1. Isaiah Stewart, Washington (18.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks) – He nearly beat Oregon by himself.
---2. Onyeka Okongwu, USC (16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks) – Okongwu’s production is a bit inconsistent, but his 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds and four blocks against Stanford were pivotal.
---3. Tyrell Terry, Stanford (15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 42.7 3-point %) – Terry was excellent in the win over UCLA, but made some key mistakes in the loss to USC.
---4. Zeke Nnaji, Arizona (16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds) – He is averaging 17.0 points and 10.8 rebounds in his five conference games.
---5. Nico Mannion, Arizona (14.0 points, 6.1 assists) – Mannion leads the conference in assists, and when he plays well, Arizona plays well.
Pac-12 Player of the Week
--- Winner: CJ Elleby, Washington State – Elleby had 25 points and 14 rebounds while making 4-of-7 three-point shots in the upset of Oregon, and he followed that up with 22 points, nine boards and five assists in the victory over Arizona State. (Elleby was the official Pac-12 player of the week as well, although our honor has much more prestige.)
---Runnerup: Onyeka Okongwu, USC – He was outstanding against Stanford, collecting 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He was limited to 27 minutes against Cal because the Trojans won the game by 32 points, but he still contributed 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
Team on the Rise
---Washington State (12-7, 3-3) – The Cougars backed up their stunning 11-point upset of then-No. 8 Oregon with a 13-point win over Oregon State. Maybe folks in Pullman are catching on. After having a home crowd of just 3,082 for Oregon, 10,380 people witnessed the victory over Oregon State two days later. Maybe the fact that Klay Thompson had his jersey retired on Saturday, and Steph Curry was on hand as well had something to do with the big crowd.
Team on the Skids
---Utah (10-7, 1-4) – The Utes have lost four in a row and none of the last three has been closer than 16 points. They have finished no worse than fourth in the Pa-12 standings in any of the past five seasons, but that run is in jeopardy.
Team on a Mystery Tour
---Washington (12-7, 2-4) – The Huskies beat USC by 32 points and had Oregon all but beaten, but they lost to Cal and UCLA, the latter at home, and blew a big lead against the Ducks. The loss of point guard Quade Green (academically ineligible) apparently is leading to inconsistent play.
Team Stat of the Week
---The Galen Center Window Issue – Before Saturday afternoon’s Stanford-USC game began, TV analyst Don MacLean noted that the huge windows at one end of the Galen Center were uncovered, a rare occurrence for an afternoon game. He said he would have objected if he were playing, claiming the sunlight might affect shooting. Well, guess what? In the first half, when Stanford was shooting at the basket away from the windows, the Cardinal made 65.5 percent of its field-goal attempts, including 6-of-9 from three-point range, and led by 20 at halftime. In the second half, when the Cardinal was shooting at the windows end, Stanford shot 34.8 percent, including 3-for-7 on three-pointers, blew a 21-point lead and lost.
Ugly Team Stat of the Week
---Cal went 11 minutes without scoring a point during one stretch in the second half of its loss to UCLA. The Bears led by a point when the drought started and trailed by 13 when it ended. The Bears’ total of 40 points for the game was their lowest scoring total in 32 years, since a 59-37 loss to Washington State on Jan. 14, 1988.
Player Stat of the Week
---Washington State’s Isaac Bonton had not scored more than 19 points in a game this season and was hitting just 33.1 percent of his field-goal attempts before he exploded for 34 points on 8-for-13 shooting (4-for-7 on three-pointers) to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists in the win over Oregon State.
Ugly Player Stats of the Week
---Utah’s Timmy Allen leads the conference in scoring at 19.8 points per game, but he has made just 33.3 percent of his shots in the Utes’ five conference games.
Quotes of the Week
---“For us to win, Chris [Smith] has got to give us some offense. Unlike the Democratic Party, we don’t have that many candidates.” – UCLA coach Mick Cronin, to the Los Angeles Times, after Sunday’s win over Cal.
--- “Everybody in the country saw it today. We got our butts whipped. We’ll see those guys again in Las Vegas.” – Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV, to the Arizona Daily Star, after the Buffaloes’ 21-point loss to Arizona, a game televised nationally by Fox.
---“Let’s just give that credit to Klay and Steph.” --- Washington State’s Isaac Bonton. “They came into the gym and made the gym hot.” -- Washington State’s Noah Williams. Both WSU players made the comments to the Spokane Spokesman Review, trying to explain why the Cougars, a poor outside shooting team, hit 8-of-20 three-pointers in a win over Oregon State on the day Klay Thompson’s jersey was retired with Steph Curry also in attendance.
---“I almost passed out.” – USC coach Andy Enfield, to the Los Angeles Times, on the ferocity of his halftime speech to his players, who rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit to beat Stanford.
Top Upcoming Game This Week
---Thursday, January 23 – USC (15-3, 4-1) at Oregon (15-4, 4-2) – The Trojans are tied for first place, but this will be their first game against one of the three Pac-12 teams that is ranked in the top 25 this week.
Cal High Point of the Week
Dimitrios Klonaras made a three-point shot with 22 seconds left in Sunday’s game against UCLA to enable the Bears to break the 40-point barrier.