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Pac-12 basketball takeaways from the first week of conference play

Utah highlighted the first weekend of Pac-12 play

Delon Wright averaged 11 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in two games this weekend.
Delon Wright averaged 11 points, 7.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in two games this weekend.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the first week of conference play, the only two sure things were Arizona and Utah. And that was reinforced even more after this weekend. Here's what else you need to know about the first weekend of conference play.

UCLA has a long way to go

The Bruins have lost their last five games and are averaging 47.2 points over their last four games. UCLA started off Pac-12 play with a 62-56 loss to a Colorado team that was without Josh Scott and followed that up with an embarrassing 71-39 loss to Utah. Bryce Alford, UCLA's leading scorer at 16.8 points per game, was held scoreless against the Utes and is off to a wretched 2-for-26 start from the field in his first two games.

Yes, the Bruins did lose three first-round picks and the Wear twins, but the offense should not be this putrid. They're averaging 71.8 points per 100 possessions in their first two games in conference play. Everything is forced in the half-court and too many possessions end up with one-on-one contested shots. It's still early, but UCLA is 8-7 overall, shooting 44.2 percent on two-pointers and just looks incredibly lost on offense. Steve Alford has his work cut out for him.

Inconsistency continues to plague Cal

The 81-75 win over the Huskies on Friday night gave Cal reasons for some optimism about the offense going forward. Jordan Mathews had 31 points and scored in a variety of ways while David Kravish and Tyrone Wallace combined for 40 points. Cal took it to Washington in the second half and scored 54 points and the offense looked more than capable without Jabari Bird.

Then, Sunday happened. Washington St. snapped their 15-game conference losing streak on the road and beat Cal 69-66. The Bears averaged .97 points per possession and Cal's offensive woes were on full display. Only Jordan Mathews and Tyrone Wallace were in double figures for the Bears and despite the fact that Washington St. has the worst three-point defense in the conference, Cal couldn't capitalize and shot only 36 percent from beyond the arc.

Their lack of depth and the fact that they really only have three players who can score continues to be a problem. After such a great win on Friday night, the loss against Washington St. was tough to swallow.

Mountain teams start off on a high note

The Utes thrashed USC 79-55 and beat UCLA by 32 and continued to show that they are one of the best teams in the country. Utah put its foot down on the both of their opponents' throats early and didn't let them sniff a chance at victory. Delon Wright is a menace defensively and a triple-double threat every game. And Utah's interior defense is absurd. The Trojans and Bruins combined to shoot 38.7 percent on two-point field goals and 16.7 percent on three-pointers.

Utah is giving up 87.7 points per 100 possessions, which is seventh best in the country. And although it was widely believed that this was Arizona's conference to win, every time the Utes play, they continue to make that harder and harder to defend.

After going 7-5 and looking lackluster in all facets of the game in non-conference play, Colorado got off to a needed 2-0 start this weekend. The Buffs were without Josh Scott, but Wesley Gordon stepped up with a breakout game as the redshirt sophomore had 11 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks in their win over UCLA.

Xavier Johnson's seven points helped key an 11-0 run that gave the Buffs a late second half lead against the Bruins. Against USC, Johnson had 17 points and Dustin Thomas stepped up with 17 points as well. If Colorado is going to contend in the Pac-12, they'll need players like Gordon, Thomas and more 'others' to continue to step up.

The unpredictability will continue

It's all a crapshoot for third place in the Pac-12. After an 11-0 start, Washington has lost three in a row and was swept on a Bay Area road trip. Stanford and Cal are both dealing with key injuries to Reid Travis and Jabari Bird respectively.

Colorado still has plenty to prove and UCLA cannot score. Arizona St. leads the league in turnovers per game. Oregon has shown promise, but is too reliant on Joseph Young. And Washington St., Oregon St., and USC are fighting at the bottom of the pack.

The conference is littered with mediocrity and is waiting for any team to prove itself. Although the year might not be as impressive as years past, it should still be very entertaining watching it all sort out.