What a thrilling home stand for the Cal Bears this past week. It was starting to look a bit gloomy after Cal was swept on their last road trip against Utah and Colorado. Two weeks later, the Bears are jockeying for position two games out of first place in the conference. The Pac-12 has been closer than I can remember this season and teams are still trying to figure out a way to win on the road. Let's take a look at the conference standings, make our pick for the Pac-12 game of the week and highlight a few other standout performances.
Pac-12 Conference Standings (2/15/16)
At this point the Pac-12 could send as many as 9 teams to the tournament. The conference has been undeniably strong this year, and closer than I can remember in the last five years. Oregon came in looking to make a statement against Cal and instead got demolished and downright embarrassed. They turned right around and lost at Stanford to round out an incredibly poor showing on their Bay Area road trip. Oregon bowed out of first place in the conference as Arizona supplanted them as the top team in the Pac-12 once more. Utah destroyed Washington State and the Cougars are the only bottom feeder we have this year in the Pac-12. Cal could swing either way after their trip to Washington, either competing for the title or dropping back to .500 in the conference.
Pac-12 Game of the Week: Cal over #11 Oregon
What a game this truly was. Oregon came into Haas with a head of steam and the Bears destroyed the Ducks in almost every aspect of the game. Cal finally played to their potential and had their first game where start to finish they had their best stuff. The depth of Cal was on display as Tyrone Wallace spelled Sam Singer, and Jabari Bird shut down Dillon Brooks. Bird had one of, if not his best, game ever as a Cal Bear and would continue to play confidently through the weekend. The Bears gained a lot of momentum from this win as Oregon had one of the best RPI rankings in college basketball. After topping the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday, Cal is ranked as high as a seven seed in Bracketology and are back in play for the conference title. Also, Bill Walton was in full, well, Bill Walton mode.
Pac-12 Standout Performances:
I am comfortable nominating Jaylen just for his dunks this past week. Take a look at the highlight above and just marvel in his athletic ability. Fresh off a weekend where we saw two former Pac-12 players showcase their talent in the NBA dunk contest, let's appreciate the high flying ability of Jaylen Brown. The guy is one of the most dynamic players in college and someone who off the dribble can beat anybody to the basket. Cal's offense has opened up due to Jaylen's presence on the floor and he has stepped up when other players (Matthews, Rabb) have started to fade. Watching Jaylen play reminds me of when I saw Russell Westbrook play (against Cal) in college and what a pleasure that was. We are lucky to have him in blue and gold for this season.
We don't honestly talk enough about what Arizona has done this year and I feel like we write about them every other week. The Pac-12 has seen a tremendous amount of parity this season and perhaps some of that is due to the injuries the Wildcats have endured. They lost their touted big man for the beginning of the season and then lost their best contributor, Allonzo Trier, in January. Yet, here are the Wildcats with less than three weeks to play in Pac-12 conference play sitting at the top of the standings. The Wildcats have proven that they have the depth and experience to endure any injury and continue to play top tier basketball.
George King had his best game of the season against Washington State helping the Buffaloes beat the Cougars in double overtime. King had 21 points along with 9 rebounds and one game saving three pointer that pushed the contest into a second overtime period. Washington State isn't exactly having a great season, yet they are a well coached team and definitely were deserving of a victory at Colorado. King buried one of the best last minute shots we have seen all season and the Buff's eventually topped the Coug's in the second overtime.