Well, talk about an uneventful week on the hard court. After a weekend filled with important matchups between conference title contenders and a few upsets thrown in, this week saw nothing but chalk, and most of it lacking any kind of drama. Arizona, Washington and Washington St. all went undefeated against teams expected to finish in the bottom half of the conference standings, and only one of the games was particularly close. The only game that provided any kind of drama was UCLA's trip to the Galen Center to face USC.
I was excited to see the matchup between probably the two best collections of big men in the conference, and in the first half Reeves Nelson, Tyler Honeycutt and Josh Smith had the advantage after a slow start. But then USC's defense took over, and by the end of the game Nikola Vucevic had 20 points, Alex Stephenson had 16 rebounds, and UCLA had lost to their cross-town rivals for the 4th straight time, a rather shocking run considering UCLA's basketball reputation and USC's lack thereof. I'm guessing UCLA fans aren't pleased:
There is no excuse for what we saw happen at Sam's Club Center tonight. Yet again, the Bruins failed to put together two halves (or even some significant stretches) of competent basketball, the consequence being that UCLA has now lost 4 straight men's basketball games to U$C.
Ya know, sometimes it's nice not to root for a team with 11 national championships worth of expectations.
Around The Pac
In which we take a look at a few of the more interesting and/or important games that happened last week
Arizona 67, Stanford 57
Considering the manner in which Stanford dispatched Cal and Arizona St., and how unconvincing Arizona looked against Oregon St. and Cal, this game had a bit of intrigue. If Stanford won they would be one of two undefeated teams in the conference and have two road wins, an impressive accomplishment for such a young team. But Arizona reestablished their dominance by shooting the lights out from behind the arc. Stanford managed to prevent Derrick Williams from dominating the same way he did the Bears, but the rest of the Wildcats showed that they aren't necessarily a one man team in a relatively uneventful 10 point win.
Despite the loss, Stanford is undoubtedly happy to start the season 2-1 before continuing the hellish early conference schedule 'enjoyed' by the Bay Area schools. Josh Owens has proven himself to be a reliable option alongside Jeremy Green, so the Cardinal should be reasonably competitive throughout the season. As for Arizona, they couldn't afford to drop a home game if they want to compete with Washington atop the standings.
UCLA 61, USC 42
What's that? UCLA beat USC? Oh, well, we're talking about women's basketball now. You thought I was going to waste words talking about Washington schools routing Oregon schools? Not likely.
This is a game directly relevant to the Cal women, because Cal's fate is likely tied to their performance against the schools from L.A. The Bears have proved that they should finish ahead of the Arizona, Oregon and Washington schools barring injuries or inexplicable weirdness. That leaves UCLA and USC in the battle for Stanford's scraps. And UCLA made an early statement in that battle with a defensive bludgeoning of the Trojans. USC only managed 12 field goals, and just 6 from inside the arc, an impressively futile effort. Add in 20 turnovers and a -11 rebounding margin and 42 points starts making sense.
Meanwhile, Jasmine Dixon got whatever she wanted in the paint and UCLA had more than enough offense to make up for an off-game for Marcel Walker. The Bruins have firmly established their stake on 2nd place in the Pac-10 and it will be up to Cal to unseat them in Berkeley in a few weeks.
Washington, Washington St. @ Cal, Stanford
UCLA, USC @ Oregon, Oregon St.
Arizona St. @ Arizona
My God, it's an even more boring collection of games than last week! The presumptive five best teams in the conference will play each other a combined ZERO times next week. So it will either be a week of interesting upsets or boring, boring chalk. I think Cal and Stanford are both talented and fiesty enough that either Washington or Washington St. will take a loss away from home. And maybe Craig Robinson's magic zone will lull UCLA to sleep. But I'm not holding my breath. Wake me up in a week, when Arizona travels to Seattle for the most important game in the first half of the conference schedule.