The Pac-12 added a new twist to the scheduling this season – Friday night games.
Traditionalists may not like it and pine for the days when the conference adhered to a Thursday-Saturday format, when games began at 7 p.m. Both those days are over.
The league added Sunday games several years ago and coaches such as Arizona State’s Herb Sendek once griped playing on Sunday “takes away what should be a natural off day for the student-athletes.”
When commissioner Larry Scott negotiated a 12-year, $2.7 billion TV deal in 2011, then any arguments against scheduling changes were silenced by the boatload of cash each school will receive over the life of the contract.
Two years ago, the Pac-12 began playing games on Wednesday. And now, there’s a game Friday between No. 2 Arizona and Arizona State that begins 6 p.m. PT.
In two weeks, Washington plays host to Washington State on Friday, Feb. 28.
FRIDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Nick Johnson is in a bit of a scoring and shooting slump, but he’s still Arizona’s go-to guy.
— Since their last meeting, a 61-68 Arizona rout, ASU has won five of six games and is playing some of the best basketball in the Pac-12. For Sun Devils sophomore star Jahii Carson, who plans to turn pro after the season, it’s his last game against the cross-state rival at Wells Fargo Arena. He told the Arizona Republic: “We’ve played them now three times since I’ve been here and I haven’t won one, so it’s about time I get one.”
— Carson needs a win against Arizona to fortify his legacy as one of the greats at Arizona State.
— A curious thing happened at ASU the past four years, the Sun Devils developed big man project Jordan Bachynski into a NBA prospect. We should write sonnets about this achievement because it rarely happens in basketball anymore. The native from Calgary, Canada averaged 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds and .8 blocks per game as a freshman. This season he’s averaging 12.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.5 blocks while setting the conference all-time record in blocked shots.
— Aaron Gordon’s jumper is wretched – he shoots 29.6 percent on three-pointers and 41.8 percent on free throws – but he’s still going to be a NBA lottery pick this summer because he’s an amazing basketball player with a high-motor.
— Kyle Anderson had 22 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, while freshman Bryce Alford scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half on four three-pointers to lead UCLA, which trailed by 12 points at halftime, to a 92-74 victory over Colorado at Pauley Pavilion. Jordan Adams had 17 points and seven rebounds and Travis Wear shot 6 of 6 for a season-high 13 points for the Bruins (19-5, 8-3 Pac-12), who remained in second place in conference. The win gives UCLA a regular-season sweep over the Buffaloes.
— Colorado, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, played its first game Thursday after handing Washington a 91-65 defeat Sunday at Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes are 6-1 at home and 1-4 on the road in Pac-12 play. Josh Scott led CU (18-7, 7-5) with 20 points. Askia Booker added 16 points and a career-high 12 assists and Xavier Johnson had 14 points and nine rebounds.
— Playing in his hometown Los Angeles, Delon Wright had 20 points and nine rebounds while hot-shooting Utah kept USC in the Pac-12 cellar by holding off a late run for a 79-71 victory at Galen Center. The win, Utah’s third straight, moves the Utes (17-7, 6-6) into a tie for seventh in the conference with Washington. Utah broke the game open to start the second half for a 56-39 lead. The Utes never trailed after the break, although USC cut its deficit to 71-67 with 3:15 left. Jordan Loveridge added 19 points.
— For USC (10-14, 1-10), it was its fifth straight loss and 10th in the last 11 games — all in the Pac-12. Byrone Wesley paced the Trojans with 20 points.
— Three Pac-12 players (Anderson, Gordon and Johnson) are included on the Naismith Award’s 30-man midseason watch list.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
No. 2 Arizona (23-1, 10-1) at Arizona State (18-6, 7-4), 6 p.m. PT ………… ESPN
Pac-12 tally: 48-20 (.706)
Season tally: 145-43 (.771)