It wasn’t your standard, chalky kind of evening in Pac-12 hoops Wednesday night. Washington State, lugging a nine-game losing streak, swatted aside UCLA, 73-61, and no matter the circumstances, that’s headline news for WSU. Over the last decade, while almost every other team in the league has had its occasional successes against UCLA — some with regularity — the Bruins have been Kryptonite for the Cougars. Remember, it wasn’t until Dick Bennett got to WSU that the Cougars finally won their first game in history at Pauley Pavilion, and even at home, it’s been a monumental challenge for WSU to prevail (Tony Bennett had very good teams, but UCLA always had better). This one broke a 19-game losing streak to UCLA in games in Pullman, a remarkable string.
The game didn’t do a lot to inspire confidence in Ben Howland’s team, which lost the rebound battle to a short WSU team, 46-23.
While Washington was beating USC at Alaska Airlines Arena, Stanford throttled Cal, 83-70, on the Bears’ Senior Night, in a game that featured a shoving match that got some players and coaches ejected for leaving the bench. For Cal, which had put itself in position to have a chance to tie for the league title (that possibility still exists, but it’s unlikely), it was the second eyebrow-raising moment in a couple of weeks, coming on the heels of the Mike Montgomery shove of Allen Crabbe awhile back.
Possible seeds for the Pac-12 tournament are very much in flux. As I read it, Washington could be anywhere from 5-8, depending on its finale Saturday against UCLA, and other games. (It could jump to fifth if it can forge a tie with Colorado, which is 9-7 to Washington’s 9-8. But that would entail rooting for Oregon against the Buffs, something I suspect is against the DNA of the Huskies.) You’d think the best possible opening-round tournament matchup for Washington would be Arizona State, which it has beaten twice and dominated on the boards, while I don’t think anybody really wants a piece of Stanford right now.
WSU, meanwhile, gave itself a shot at shedding the No. 12 seed next week in Las Vegas. It could finish anywhere from 10 to 12, depending on its finale with USC and other games involving Oregon State and Utah.
A third Washington-Washington State game is a possibility, if you project Washington as, say, a No. 6 seed, and the Cougars 11th.