Pac-10 Weekly Notebook

    
January 9th, 2007
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Player of the Week

Aaron Brooks of the Oregon Ducks was given Player of the Week honors by the PAC-10. The senior guard led the Ducks to a big upset win over number one ranked UCLA. Brooks averaged 28 points, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2.5 rebounds in two games this week.

Power Rankings

#1 UCLA BRUINS
Record: Conference (3-1) Overall (14-1)

In their first game of the week, the Bruins cruised past Oregon St. on the road using a balanced offensive attack with all five starters finishing in double-digit scoring. Josh Shipp fresh off his injury led all scorers with 18 points in the win. The Bruins then brought their 14-game winning streak into Eugene to face then sixteenth-ranked Oregon for a Saturday matchup of ranked teams. The game was close most of the way with the Bruins trailing heading into the final few minutes when Darren Collison tied the game for the Bruins on a three-pointer in the last minute. However, the Ducks answered right back to re-take the lead for good. The Bruins had one last chance, but chose to go for a three-pointer instead of a closer two-pointer and the tie. Coach Ben Howland’s explanation for the odd play call was due to concern about the foul trouble of his starters heading into overtime and thus decided to go for the win instead. With the loss, the Bruins drop to number four in the latest AP Poll.

The Bruins continue their road stretch against USC on Saturday for their only game of the week.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 at Oregon St. W 71-56
Sat, Jan 6 at (16) Oregon L 66-68

#2 ARIZONA WILDCATS
Record: Conference (3-1) Overall (12-2)

The Wildcats needed a lights-out shooting performance against Washington and that’s exactly what they got en route to a second-half comeback win earlier in the week. The Wildcats shot a blistering 76% in the decisive second half to the bewilderment of the Huskies. Following the win, the Wildcats took their 14-game winning streak into Pullman to face a resurgent Washington St. team. The Wildcats struggled to find their scoring touch this time shooting just 39% and consequently lost for only the second time this season. The Wildcats managed to tie the game and send it to overtime, where they failed to match the Cougars basket for basket. Mustafa Shakur finished with 19 points and 8 assists in the loss. Arizona drops to tenth in the latest AP Poll.

The Wildcats host both Oregon teams starting with the Oregon St. Beavers before a showdown with fifteenth-ranked Oregon later this coming week.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 at (24) Washington W 96-87
Sat, Jan 6 at Washington St. L 73-77

#3 OREGON DUCKS
Record: Conference (2-1) Overall (14-1)

Both players and coaches denied that they overlooked the USC Trojans before their primetime matchup against the UCLA Bruins later in the week. Whatever the case was, the Ducks struggled early on, led at halftime, and then fell behind again before making a run that came up just short in the end. Aaron Brooks kept the Ducks close finishing with a game high 31 points and committed just four turnovers in the loss. With the loss out of the way, the Ducks looked to get back to their winning ways against number one ranked UCLA. They started strong this time and led at the half. The Ducks weathered the Bruins comeback attempt and broke a late game deadlock when Aaron Brooks hit a pull-up jumper to go up for good. Coach Ernie Kent was holding back tears after the historic win proclaiming, "This is a together basketball team, their spirit is unbelievable." Brooks was once again sensational finishing with another game-high 25 points. The Ducks move up to fifteenth in the latest AP Poll.

The Ducks head on the road to Arizona to face the Arizona St. Sun Devils before facing the tenth-ranked Arizona Wildcats late in the coming week.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 USC L 82-84
Sat, Jan 6 (1) UCLA W 68-66

#4 WASHINGTON ST COUGARS
Record: Conference (3-1) Overall (14-2)

The magical ride continues for the underdog Cougars who many picked to finish near or at the bottom of the conference before the season began. After a narrow loss to top-ranked UCLA last week, the Cougars hosted both teams from the state of Arizona this week. First up were the Sun Devils of Arizona St. The game was close after the first half, but the Cougars clamped down on defense and would go on to roll the Sun Devils. Robbie Cowgill finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds in the win. The Cougars next opponent would prove to be significantly tougher as the Wildcats came in with a 14-game winning streak heading into the game. The game remained close throughout with the lead changing several times before the Cougars managed to get the lead late. After the Wildcats came back to tie and send the game to overtime, the Cougars took the lead for good ending the game on a 10-6 run. The Cougars locked down defensively and held the high-powered Wildcats’ offense to just 39% shooting for the game. Daven Harmeling of the Cougars led all scorers with 28 points. The Cougars make their debut at twenty-two in the latest AP Poll with the win over Arizona and the narrow loss to UCLA.

The Cougars host California and Stanford this coming week.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 Arizona St. W 75-55
Sat, Jan 6 (7) Arizona W 77-73

#5 WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Record: Conference (1-3) Overall (11-4)

Following losses to USC and UCLA last week, the Huskies faced another major test against Arizona earlier this week. Despite leading for most of the game, the Huskies saw their lead evaporate under a dazzling display of outside shooting from the Wildcats that kept the Huskies winless in conference play. Quincy Pondexter for the Huskies led all scorers with 25 points in the loss. The Huskies didn’t have much time to ponder their three-game losing streak as they hosted Arizona St. two nights later. The Huskies would eventually get their first conference win but not without a battle. The Sun Devils packed the paint focusing on stopping standout freshman Spencer Hawes. Ryan Appleby took advantage knocking down six three-pointers en route to 20 points and a Husky win. The Huskies drop all the way out of the top 25 AP Poll.

The Huskies look to move up in the conference standings with wins on the road over Stanford and California this coming week.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 (10) Arizona L 87-96
Sat, Jan 6 Arizona St. W 64-53

#6 USC TROJANS
Record: Conference (3-1) Overall (13-4)

The Trojans made a big splash this week after back-to-back road wins against both sixteenth-ranked Oregon and Oregon St. The first win of the week ended the perfect season so far for the Ducks. The Trojans got huge plays from freshman Taj Gibson while Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt all finished in double-digit scoring. The Trojans trailed at the half but managed to shoot 63% in the second half to overtake the Ducks. The Trojans completely dominated the Oregon St. Beavers in their second game of the week. The Beavers never threatened the Trojans who led throughout the majority of the game. Lodrick Stewart scored finished with a career-high 28 points in the win. The Trojans remain unranked in the AP Poll despite the two wins.

A showdown with number one-ranked UCLA looms this coming Saturday.

Games this week:
Thu, Jan 4 at (16) Oregon W 84-82
Sat, Jan 6 at Oregon St. W 91-46

#7 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Record: Conference (2-1) Overall (10-5)

In their only game of the week, the Cal Bears ended their 14-road losing streak against the Cardinal in their building by narrowly defeating the Cardinal this past week. The Bears pushed the tempo beating the bigger but slower lineup of the Cardinal and forcing hurried shots. Ayinde Ubaka of the Bears finished with a season-high 26 points including seven points in the final three minutes to lead his team to victory. Freshman Ryan Anderson continued his strong play finishing with 12 points and six rebounds.

A tough week ahead awaits the Bears as they prepare to host Washington St. then twenty-four ranked Washington later in the week.

Game results this week:
Wed, Jan 3 at Stanford W 67-63

#8 STANFORD CARDINAL
Record: Conference (1-2) Overall (8-4)

The Cardinal faced a very tough schedule this week starting with seventh-ranked Arizona early in the week. Down early in the game, the Cardinal fought back to take the lead in the second, before the Wildcats stormed back for the eventual win. The Cardinal were dominant in the paint outscoring and outrebounding the Wildcats inside led by the Lopez twins. Next up the Cardinal hosted the Cal Bears whom they haven’t lost to at home since the ’93 season. However it was the Bears who had the advantage on this night running and gunning their way past the Cardinal. Robin Lopez led the Cardinal with 16 points and nine rebounds in the loss. Keeping their head held high despite two losses in the week, the Cardinal traveled east to face 9-3 Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference. A closely played game featuring 14 lead changes came down to the final play where Lawrence Hill hit a driving floater with less than a second left to give the Cardinal a one-point lead and the win. Once again, the Cardinal used their significant size advantage in the Lopez twins to outscore and outrebound the Cavaliers in the paint.

The Cardinal host both Washington teams, first up are the twenty-fourth ranked Huskies of Washington followed by the Washington St. Cougars.

Game results this week:
Sat, Dec 30 at (7) Arizona L 75-89
Wed, Jan 3 California L 63-67
Sun, Jan 7 at Virginia W 76-75

#9 OREGON ST BEAVERS
Record: Conference (0-3) Overall (8-8)

The Beavers looked to get their first conference win of the year hosting both UCLA and USC this week. They found only 2 lopsided losses instead. The Beavers stayed with the Bruins slowing the game down to a halfcourt battle in the first half, but poor shot selection doomed them in the second allowing the Bruins to get on big runs to runaway with the win. Marcel Jones was the high scorer for the Beavers with 13. Poor shooting continued to plague the Beavers into their game against USC as they shot just 31% from the field. The Beavers never threatened beyond the first eight minutes. Angelo Tsagarakis led the Beavers with ten points in the loss.

The Beavers travel to the state of Arizona to face seventh-ranked Arizona before finishing off the week against Arizona St.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 (1) UCLA L 56-71
Sat, Jan 6 USC L 46-91

#10 ARIZONA ST SUN DEVILS
Record: Conference (0-4) Overall (6-9)

The Sun Devils went on the road searching for their first conference win but came up on the short end of the stick both times. In their first game of the week, the Sun Devils turned the ball over too many times leading to a 22-7 advantage for the Cougars in points off turnovers. In their second game of the week, the Sun Devils crashed the paint looking to stuff the Huskies down low, but got burned on the perimeter instead. The Sun Devils stayed close throughout but couldn’t match the Huskies basket for basket. Jeff Pendergraph led the Sun Devils in scoring in both losses.

The Sun Devils host red hot Oregon fresh off their win over UCLA, then Oregon St. comes into town later on Saturday.

Game results this week:
Thu, Jan 4 at Washington St. L 55-75
Sat, Jan 6 at (24) Washington L 53-64

Big Games Next Week

Sat, Jan 13 (4) UCLA at USC 2:30 pm

The Bruins look to bounce back after losing to Oregon this past week, while USC looks for it’s third straight conference win. USC beat Oregon who beat UCLA or so the logic goes. USC has really picked up their game since the return of Gabe Pruitt from academic probation. Taj Gibson is on many people’s top ten freshman list while Nick Young is the rock on the team. The Bruins should win this game based on their superior speed and aggressive defense. But stranger things have happened.

Sat, Jan 13 Washington at California 5:00 pm

This is a huge game for both teams. Washington has had a tough conference schedule so far going 1-4. They need this win here if they want back in the Top 25 but worse yet could fall out of favor with the selection committee should they lose. California could still sneak into the Tournament should they get a few quality wins, this being one of them. The Bears don’t nearly have enough talent, but their guards have the quickness to force the tempo and hit perimeter shots. Few teams in the nation have someone in their lineup (and the Bears aren’t one of them) that can guard Husky center Spencer Hawes one-on-one so look for the Huskies to exploit that matchup.

Sun, Jan 14 (15) Oregon at (10) Arizona 8:00 pm

In the biggest game of the week in the PAC-10, the Ducks head to Arizona for what looks to be a shootout. Both are high scoring offenses that love to get out and run and shoot extremely well. Defense has been an issue for both teams but the game will come down to which team can get the key stop in crunch time. Aaron Brooks has been simply outstanding for the Ducks in their wins this past week. While all five starters for the Wildcats are firing on all cylinders. One thing is clear, the game will be a spectacular show.