WEEK 15 PAC-10 POWER RANKINGS
In ascending order …
No. 10. Last week (8) Arizona State (10-16, 2-12; RPI rank: 149)
Recent results: Lost 62-46 at USC, Lost 71-53 at UCLA
The season can’t end fast enough for the Sun Devils. Or maybe it already has. The only good thing about last week’s drubbing in Los Angeles is coach Herb Sendek was able to get his young players some valuable playing time. ASU underclassmen accounted for 91 of the team’s 99 points. Sophomore guard Trent Lockett, sophomore forward Carrick Felix and freshman guard Keala King are solid pieces to build around. Next season Sendek will likely give the ball to incoming freshman Jahii Carson, Arizona’s top prep point guard. The Sun Devils still need to develop or find more big guys. They’re the only Pac-10 team with two 7-footers, but sophomore Ruslan Pateev and freshman Jordan Bachynski are long-term projects. Also keep your eye on freshman wing Chance Creekmur (right), who is averaging 32 minutes in the past three games.
Next up: Thursday vs Oregon, Saturday vs Oregon State
9. (10) Oregon State (10-17, 5-11; 229)
Recent results: Lost 87-76 to California, Beat Stanford 87-80
At first glance you’d think Oregon State, which is 1-10 on the road this season, will get mauled Thursday when it travels to face No. 18 Arizona. But the Beavers have a three-game winning streak against the Wildcats, including a 65-55 win at the McKale Center last season. On Jan. 2, OSU beat Arizona 76-75 in Corvallis, Ore. … Sophomore guard Jared Cunningham has 77 steals, which is fifth in the nation. He needs five more to crack the Pac-10’s single-season top 10 list. … On Senior Night, seniors Calvin Haynes, a second-team all-Pac-10 choice last season, and Lathen Wallace came off the bench. The Beavers are going with a rotation filled with underclassmen. The centerpiece of the team is Cunningham.
Next up: Thu at Arizona, Sat at ASU
8. (9) Stanford (14-14, 7-10; 140)
Recent result: Won 88-71 at Oregon, Lost 87-80 at OSU
Last week freshman guard Aaron Bright, the former Bellevue High standout, was 8-of-10 from beyond the arc, including a perfect 5-of-5 at Oregon State. Bright is one of four freshmen including Anthony Brown, former Vashon High star John Gage and Josh Huestis who have received plenty of playing time recently. Over the last two games, the Cardinal freshmen combined for 82 of Stanford’s 168 points. … In the win at Oregon, junior forward Josh Owens posted a career-high 31 points on 12-of-15 (.800) shooting, in addition to 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Next up: Tuesday vs Seattle University, Sat at Cal
7. (5) Oregon (14-14, 7-9; 142)
Recent results: Lost 88-71 to Stanford, Lost 81-71 to Cal
Interesting observation from The Oregonian about the Ducks. When they hold opponents below 42 percent from the floor in Pac-10 play, they’re 6-0. Whey they don’t, they’re 1-9. … It’s never a good thing when you’re swept at home. Especially when Oregon is fighting for a top-6 finish in the conference race and avoid a first-round game next week. Oregon plays Arizona State Thursday and if the Ducks remain in seventh place, then the two teams will square off again March 9. … Junior guard Malcolm Armstead earned his first start since Jan. 1 and responded with 22 points, six assists and five steals.
Next up: Thu at ASU, Sat at Arizona
6. (3) Washington (19-9, 10-6; 43)
Recent results: Lost 80-69 to WSU
It’s crazy what an 11-point home loss in February can do to a team that had serious postseason aspirations. There’s panic on Montlake. Maybe not from the UW coaches or players, but Husky Nation is nervous about Washington for good reason. Historically coach Lorenzo Romar’s teams start slowly and finish strong, but this season may be the exception. He described Sunday’s loss as a “setback” and was at loss to explain why the Huskies played so poorly at home where they had a 14-game winning streak. Steve Kelley believes UW needs to play faster and Bud Withers says Washington could face Washington State for a third time next week in Los Angeles. … The Huskies are 1-2 in their past three games, but they’re also 4-2 in their previous six. … Junior guard Scott Suggs (strained left MCL) was scheduled to return this week. … An average of most NCAA tournament projections say UW is No. 9 seed, but it is 43 in the RPI rankings, which puts them on the bubble.
Next up: Thu vs UCLA, Sat vs USC
5. (7) Washington State (18-10, 8-8; 76).
Recent results: Won 80-69 at UW
It’s obvious the Cougars get motivated to play the Huskies, their cross-state nemesis. They dominated the regular-season series and have played their best basketball against Washington. But now comes the tricky part, sustaining the momentum. The last time WSU beat UW, it lost four of its next six games. A two-point loss at Arizona State two weeks ago may haunt the Cougars who could find themselves in the NIT at the end of the season. They’ll need an amazing finish to earn a NCAA tournament at-large berth. Winning the Pac-10 Tournament and the automatic bid to the Big Dance is a realistic goal for this squad. … Junior guard Klay Thompson will win the Pac-10 scoring title and junior forward DeAngelo Caso is likely an all-conference performer, but sophomore guard Reggie Moore (above, near left), the former Rainier Beach High standout, appears to be the leader of the team.
Next up: Thu vs USC, Sat vs UCLA
4. (6) USC (17-12, 9-7; 80)
Recent results: Beat Arizona State 62-46, Beat Arizona 65-57
USC has won five of its past six games, including a four-game winning streak. The Trojans are winning with defense and they’re taking care of the ball. In the past four games, they’ve allowed opponents to shoot just 35.9 percent from the field while averaging only 7.3 turnovers per game. … Junior forward Nikola Vucevic averaged 22.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the home sweep of the Arizona schools and he won the Pac-10 Player of the Week award. … Senior guard Marcus Simmons, who held UW’s Isaiah Thomas to 10 points in their first meeting, is making a late push for the Defensive Player of the Year award. … Senior forward Alex Stepheson has a double double in three of the past four games.
Up next: Thu at WSU, Sat at UW
3. (4) California (16-13, 9-8; 67)
Recent results: Won 87-76 at OSU, Won 81-71 at Oregon
If the Pac-10 had a Player of the Month award, then Golden Bears junior guard Jorge Gutierrez would win for February. He averaged 21.3 points last month, while shooting 55-of-66 (.833) from the free throw line in eight games. He also contributed 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals during the month. … Cal has won three straight games and it’s a gritty, never-say-die bunch. The Bears trailed by 16 against Oregon and 14 at OSU. With a win in the regular-season finale, Cal will finish 10-8 in the conference and possibly third in the league. That would be a remarkable finish considering the Bears lost four starters from last season’s regular-season championship team.
Next up: Sat vs Stanford
2. (1) Arizona (23-6, 12-4; 19).
Recent results: Lost 71-49 at UCLA, Lost 65-57 at USC
It’s no shame being swept in Los Angeles because that’s a difficult road trip. Still the Wildcats were one of hottest teams in the country and had won eight straight games before the loss at USC. Arizona was second in the league averaging 78.4 points and shooting 48.0 percent from the field. However, during its road swing through Los Angeles, UA averaged just 53.0 points on 33.6 percent shooting. … Arizona is 15-0 at home and a pair of wins this week at McKale Center would guarantee the Wildcats at least a share of the Pac-10 regular-season title. A victory would also eliminate the Huskies from title contention. Only 25 teams have recorded a perfect 9-0 home record in the Pac-10.
Next up: Thu vs OSU, Sat vs Oregon
1. (2) UCLA (21-8, 12-4; 35)
Recent results: Beat Arizona 71-49, Beat ASU 71-53
For the first time this season, UCLA climbs to the top of the rankings and they did it in dramatic fashion. The Bruins’ win over Arizona will be one of the moments best remembered from this season because of its amazing finish. Walk-on Tyler Trapani, the great grandson of UCLA legendary coach John Wooden scored the final basket at Pauley Pavilion. … The Bruins have won eight of the past nine games and 12 of 14. … Sophomore F Reeves Nelson and freshman C Joshua Smith, the former Kentwood High star, combined to shoot 27-of-42 (.643) in the home sweep of the Arizona schools. Nelson tallied a career-high 27 points to go with 16 rebounds in the win over Arizona for his 12th double double of the season.
Next up: Thu at UW, Sat at WSU