Okay this is getting embarrassing. For the third consecutive outing, no one correctly picked all the games Thursday. Blame Oregon, which upset USC.
Early start today so let’s get to it. Good luck.
Arizona State at California, noon (FSN)
Oregon at UCLA, 2 p.m.
Arizona at Stanford, 4 p.m.
Oregon State at USC, 4:30 p.m.
Washington at Washington State, 7 p.m. (FSNW)
My picks: Cal, UCLA, Stan and USC.
Pac-10 record: 46-30.
AND THE UW-WSU WINNER IS …
The Huskies 78-70.
Focus is the word of the day. I spoke with coach Lorenzo Romar Thursday and we talked about the importance of the Huskies managing their emotions in a hostile environment.
“To know that you’re in a real scrap, it’s a whole lot of fun playing basketball,” he said. “When you know you have to be very focused. Each team is trying to get that mental edge, that physical edge. That is when it’s at it’s best.
“In terms of managing it, we just all have to make sure we don’t let our emotions cross the boundaries to where you pick up a flagrant foul or a taunting foul or you start to make it a personal battle. Those are the things you want to avoid. Aside from that it’s great when both teams are competing like that.”
The last time they played, Quincy Pondexter and Xavier Thames collected technical fouls and James Watson should have been given a technical for knocking Pondexter to the floor late in the first half.
This figures to be another chippy game with lots of woofing, flaunting and displays of emotion. It’s Senior Night for the Cougars and the fans at Beasley Coliseum will say goodbye to forward Nikola Koprivica, who ranks second for the most wins by an individual student-athlete at WsU. With a victory today, he moves into a first-place tie.
The sweet-shooting Serbian is a holdover from the good ole days. He was on two NCAA tournament teams, including the squad that went to the Sweet 16 two years ago. The Cougars are going to want to send him out a winner.
More importantly, they’re playing for seeding in the Pac-10 Tournament and are trying to avoid the 8-9 game.
Both teams have strong incentives.
WSU coach Ken Bone tweaked the lineup last week, replacing Koprivica with sophomore F Abe Lodwick, who scored a career-high 11 points in the win against USC. In their first game, Lodwick played just five minutes so it will be vital for the Huskies to pay attention to him.
Klay Thompson, the third-leading scorer in the Pac-10, is capable of a big game. If Justin Holiday can contain him, WSU doesn’t have enough scoring options to keep pace with UW. The Huskies rank seventh in the country in scoring at 81.1 points per game. On the road, they average 70 points.
The role players are important, but they’ve often struggled away from home. Washington will win if its stars Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas can play like they did in their first meeting when they combined for 48 points. They’re a matchup nightmare for the Cougars, which has lost six of their past eight games.