It seems so long ago that the gridiron consumed our Saturday's. Maybe part of the reason the feeling has subsided is due to the brilliant competition that the Pac-12 has shown on the hardwood. Despite some clubs turning into epic disasters, there is no disputing the fact that there's never a dull day for the West Coast's finest.
Oregon 82 (14-6, 4-3), UCLA 64 (11-9, 3-4): Well, this just isn't going to get better any time soon for UCLA, is it? With no Tony Parker to man the middle, the Bruins would have needed some combination of a hot shooting night and a miracle to pull this one off on the road. Instead, they got a scorching hot shooting night from the Ducks and nothing really close to a miracle.
As a team, the Ducks would shoot 62.3 percent from the field on Saturday. Ten different players would score, led by Joseph Young, who had 16 points, while being an-uncharacteristically-efficient 7-for-11. Off the bench, Dwayne Benjamin was perfect from the field, knocking down all six shots he would take, including three threes, for 15 points.
On top of being down Parker from the onset, freshman sensation Kevon Looney battled foul trouble all game long. How he's been able to shine on a team that has been embattled all year is a testament to how skilled he truly is. He would get close to the double-double, going for 15 points and eight rebounds despite fouling out.
This was a crucial home win for Oregon, as they get ready to make the Arizona trip next week. Both contests should be high-octane battles, meaning that taking care of business at home was imperative for the bubble-riding Ducks.
Oregon State 59 (14-5, 5-2), USC 55 (9-10, 1-6): If anyone can figure out whether or not the Beavers are for real, feel free to let us all know. Even with their narrow win at home over the Trojans, I'm not so sure that I buy the hype. We saw them stymy Arizona on their home floor, but their other four conference wins come against the four worst teams in the league.
What is undisputable, and not up for debate, is how brilliant Gary Payton II has become. Going for 21 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and two steals on Saturday, his most impressive stat may have been that he only turned the ball over once in his 36 minutes of playing time.
For the Trojans, it was once again too little, too late. They'd make 16 free throws, but the bigger issue was that they made only 17 shots from the field. Jordan McLaughlin had seven assists, his most in any Pac-12 game yet, but would shoot just 2-for-11 from the floor, including 1-for-7 from three.
Katin Reinhardt was clutch enough to keep Southern Cal in it for the entirety of the game, dropping 17 points while making four threes. To have their hopes dashed on a turnover by Julian Jacobs in the game's waning moments seems like a scene all too familiar.
Colorado 90 (10-9, 3-4), Washington State 58 (9-10, 3-4): Ohhhh, boy. This contest falls somewhere in between a tip of the cap to the Buffaloes and a disappointed emoji for Wazzu.
There was little doubt that Colorado was the better club of the two, but this one came out of nowhere. Wazzu actually at one point looked, you know, good. They started 3-1 in Pac-12 play, but after their overtime win against Oregon, it's been all down hill. They've lost their last three games by 69 points combined.
Shooting just shy of 55 percent from the field, Colorado manhandled a team they had to beat. They brutalized the Cougars in every way imaginable, outrebounding them 44-28, out-assisting them 25-14, and especially outscoring them.
The Buffs would have six different players in double figures. Despite not starting, Askia Booker would lead the team in not only minutes, but points as well, pouring in 21 off the bench. For the second straight game, Wesley Gordon produced a double-double, this time with 10 points and 14 rebounds, to go along with five assists and four blocks.
Colorado is about to hit the stretch in their schedule where they believe they can get hot. They'll make the California trip next week before returning home for three straight home games. Despite currently sitting a game below .500 in the Pac-12, the remainder of the Buffs' schedule indicates that a ticket to March may not be so far-fetched.
#7 Arizona 73 (18-2, 6-1), California 50 (11-9, 1-6): The wheels have fallen off for the Golden Bears real quick. Granted, a visit from the big bad wolf of the Pac-12 probably expedited the process, but playing the league's most suffocating defense while going through a period of offensive ineptitude never helps.
Only four players would score for Cal on the night, all of them being starters, meaning a big old zero would come from the bench. While Tyrone Wallace and Jordan Mathews combined for 29 points, they didn't exactly have anyone to dish the rock to. David Kravish did his thing, going for 16 points and 11 rebounds, while the rest of his team got swallowed whole by the tidal wave of Wildcats.
After U of A fell in Corvallis back on Jan. 11, I imagine the scene in the locker room was comparable to the moment in the film Dodgeball when Ben Stiller's mustachioed character pauses and angrily mutters, "Nobody makes me bleed my own blood." From that game forward, the Wildcats have unleashed terror on their opposition. If you look at their schedule, they may be favored in every game the remainder of the season.
As Stanley Johnson continues to develop, Arizona continues to get stronger. Leading the way for the ‘Cats with 18 points and nine rebounds, the dynamic freshman gives them a controlled intensity element they may have been missing. Nine different players would score for the Wildcats, but maybe none more surprising than the Serbian freshman, Dusan Ristic, who pitched in 12 points off the bench in just 19 minutes of play.
(I would totally make a #BearDown joke here about Cal being the Golden Bears and all, but...ah, you get it.)
Stanford 89 (14-5, 5-2), Arizona State 70 (10-10, 2-5): This game helped redefine the true definition of #Pac12AfterDark with the absurdity that took place throughout. Stanford shot 70 percent from the field in the first half; ASU made eight first-half threes, before making none in the second half; Robert Cartwright attempted to throw a feed into the post from well beyond three-point range just to see his pass drop through the bucket and count for a three. The game was ridiculous, and I loved every second.
For most of the season, many assumed it was Arizona, Utah, and a cloud of dust atop the Pac-12. It seems that the Cardinal are going to interject themselves into the conversation here. Led by their three-headed, Master-degree-seeking, monster of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic, Stanford no longer looks like a bubble tournament team, but a club that may be able to make a little noise in March once again.
All three members of their trio would score at least 20 points (21 for Randle and Brown, 20 for Nastic), as the Cardinal assisted on 21 of their 31 made buckets. They led at the half by double digits and never really relinquished control the rest of the way.
The Sun Devils' hot shooting kept them around in the first half, but the well dried up for Bo Barnes and company come half number two. Savon Goodman did his best on the interior to keep his team around, pitching in 18 points and four rebounds off the bench, but the squad had no answer for Nastic and his imposing size.
Over the next ten days, ASU will play three straight home games (OSU, Oregon, U of A) in what will be a season defining week and a half. If the club wants to see any chance at March, they'll need to win at least two, if not all three.