Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
The Bruins win at Arizona and an overtime battle between Arizona State and USC highlight the first half of this week's Pac-12 basketball schedule.
Just a few days after it looked like they had taken a step back in their return glory by losing at home to Oregon, UCLA went into Tucson and grabbed a win to keep themselves within striking distance of the top of the conference. Other than the Bruins rolling of the Wildcats at home, the first slate of conference games pretty much stuck to the script this week.
Oregon 68 Washington State 61
The Cougars played their best game of the Pac-12 season, but it wasn't enough to beat the red hot Ducks, who used 14-point second half from E.J. Singler to overcome a 10-point halftime deficit. The Cougars came out hot from behind the arc but cooled off as the Ducks took control late behind big efforts from Singler who finished with 19 points and Arsalan Kazemi who had 14.
The win gives the Ducks their best conference start in ages and showed that they can avoid a letdown game against a fired up opponent and despite making a good game of it, the loss continues to bury the Cougars at the bottom of the conference.
Oregon State 74 Washington 66
The Huskies dropped their second-straight game to a team that came in without a Pac-12 win as the Beavers came out firing and quickly put them in a 20-point hole in the first half. The Huskies would roar back and close the gap to just one about halfway through the second half.
The win was crucial for Oregon State's confidence, getting them into the conference win column with another winnable home game coming on Saturday against Washington State. The second-straight embarrassing loss quickly has the Huskies searching for answers after a very promising 5-0 start in Pac-12 play.
Cal 62 Utah 57
Allen Crabbe got it going again after three games of scoring less than 15 points, as he put up 23 and led the Bears over the Utes in Salt Lake City. The Bears built a 10-point lead at halftime and never relinquished it as Crabbe knocked down four of six from 3-point land and freshman Tyrone Wallace chipped in 12 points to help out.
Though not spectacular, it was a solid win for the Bears who are holding steady in the middle of the conference and will need Crabbe to get things going again if they have any hope for postseason play. The home loss probably extinguishes any heat that the Utes had after their big upset of Washington in Seattle last Saturday and keeps them near the bottom of the conference.
UCLA 84 Arizona 73
Shabazz Muhammad and the Bruins blitzed the Wildcats earlier and then held off a second half run to grab one of the most impressive wins a team has garnered in-conference. Muhammad had one of his best games as a Bruin as he finished with 23 points and made a number of big plays down the stretch to fight off the Wildcats who were led by Nick Johnson who scored 23 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.
The win keeps the Bruins just one game behind the Ducks in the Pac-12 standings and knocks the Wildcats two games back from the top which is a huge blow as the Wildcats will not get another shot against conference-leading Oregon and have already lost the tie-breaker.
Colorado 75 Stanford 54
The Buffs played their best game in quite a while and easily handled the Cardinal in Boulder. The Buffs were lead by an impressive effort from Andre Roberson who scored 12 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. In a balanced effort, the Buffs also got 13 points from Askia Booker and 12 from Spencer Dinwiddie and Josh Scott.
Colorado's comfortable win is a good sign that the Buffs are getting back on track after a rough start to conference play and the blowout loss doesn't look good for the Cardinal who are now slipping towards the bottom of the conference.
Arizona State 98 USC 93 OT
The Sun Devils outdueled the Trojans in the best game of the first half of this week's matchups behind a 28 point explosion from Evan Gordon and a 21 point, 8 assist performance from Jahii Carson. The Sun Devils let a late lead evaporate as the Trojans forced overtime and then survived in OT after Jio Fontan missed a 3-point attempt with just seconds left with the Sun Devils up three.
The Sun Devils held court and established themselves as the better of the two teams that I don't think anyone expected to be in the upper-half of the conference this year.