Welcome to the second season of Martin's Musings, where we will take a look at what happened around the Pac-12 the previous week and at the week to come.
Weekly Pecking Order:
1.) Arizona - Beat ASU on the road (1-0) - Trailing by nine on the road is not something that most teams can come back from in most conference games, let alone a rivalry game, but Arizona found a way. Backed by tremendous performances from Gabe York and Allonzo Trier, the Wildcats were able to crash Bobby Hurley's Pac-12 welcoming party on the road. It took a while to get going, but Arizona looked like a team that is going to control the conference in the second half. The Wildcats will get tested on the road this week against a desperate UCLA team and a mysterious USC team.
2.) Washington - Beat UCLA and USC at home (2-0) - Surprise! I don't know how Washington did it, but the Huskies took out two of the top teams in the conference for a sweep in the first weekend of conference play. This includes a double overtime thriller against UCLA and a 22-point come from behind win over the Trojans (See: Yes, that Happened). The Huskies have a week to recuperate as they don't get the rival Cougars until Saturday.
3.) California - Beat Utah and Colorado at home (2-0) - Teams that can take care of their home court are going to be successful this season with the parity throughout the top half of the conference and California was able to take out Utah. Ivan Rabb struggled against CU, but dominated the Utes with an impressive double-double performance. The Golden Bears get a huge test by traveling to the Oregon schools this weekend and a road sweep would send a message that Cal is a true competitor in the Pac-12.
4.) Oregon State - Beat Oregon at home (1-0) - Surprise again! Wayne Tinkle and the Beavers didn't have the best non-conference, but trouncing a conference rival in the opener was quite the sight. I don't expect Oregon State to remain this high as the season plays out because there are still plenty of pieces missing to be a consistent competitor. With that being said, the trip to Corvallis is only going to get tougher for teams facing the road weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
5.) USC - Beat Washington State, lost to Washington on the road (1-1) - The weekend for the Trojans went pretty much the way that the whole season has. The Trojans were on the verge of taking the top spot in the power rankings before Julian Jacobs turned his ankle and, with it, the tide of the game. If Jacobs is going to miss extended time, USC may be in trouble. Before his injury the Trojans looked like a legitimate force in the Pac-12, but losing a 22-point lead is certainly concerning.
6.) Colorado - Lost to Cal, beat Stanford on the road (1-1) - The order of six and seven this week is really just dependent on the rules of how to be successful in the Pac-12 conference. Colorado went on the road and secured a road split. I'm still not sold on Colorado being that good, but a road split is a good start to the season.
7.) Stanford - Beat Utah, lost to Colorado at home (1-1) - While a road split is an acceptable outcome for success, a home split when you beat the better of the two teams is not. Johnny Dawkins pulled off a miracle with the victory over Utah and then laid an egg with the loss to Colorado. Typical Johnny Dawkins. Stanford's season gets tested this week with a trip to Oregon.
8.) Washington State - Lost to USC, beat UCLA at home (1-1) - Let's think about this for a second: Ernie Kent lost to Andy Enfield and then turned around and and beat Steve Alford. Given, UCLA was coming off a double overtime loss, but it's still fun to think about. I don't think Washington State is going to win many games in conference play and that one was a gift and a half.
9.) Oregon - Lost to Oregon State on the road (0-1) - Coming into the season, I wasn't sold on Oregon being a contender. Losing a game on the road doesn't mean too much in the grand scheme of things, but holy cow losing the way that Oregon did was pretty awful. Now the Ducks get California in a showdown that could knock Oregon out of the title hunt early.
10.) Arizona State - Lost to Arizona at home (0-1) - I'll go on record by saying that I am a huge fan of Bobby Hurley and his father as coaches. I will also say that the fire Hurley showed on Sunday will win him plenty of games in his career. He just chose the absolute worst time possible to lose his cool.
11.) UCLA - Lost to Washington and Washington State on the road (0-2) - Newly minted into the top 25, it didn't take long for the Bruins to fall from grace once again. Bryce Alford's late game heroics nearly saved the loss against Washington, however he was nowhere to be found against Washington State. This UCLA team is incredibly weird with its up and down play, but I fully expect the Bruins to bring their A game against Arizona on Thursday.
12.) Utah - Lost to Stanford and Cal on the road (0-2) - For a team with the prospective conference player of the year, Utah played pretty badly this whole week. Losing to Cal on the road is fair, but losing to Stanford in what was probably a trap game knocks the Utes down a few extra points. Delon Wright isn't walking through that door.
Yes, that happened: If you had told me that Washington was going to sweep the Los Angeles schools this weekend, I would have asked you what year we were time traveling back to. After the double overtime squeaker against UCLA, the Huskies trailed by as many as 22 points against USC. From the 13:28 mark in the second half, the Huskies outscored the Trojans 43-19 to win the game and complete one of the biggest comeback wins in conference history.
Breaking it down, USC had eight turnovers during that time and was without star guard Julian Jacobs, who turned his ankle earlier in the game. Washington turned on the pressure and battled back, despite being a young team coming off of a quick turn around from a double overtime game. It was a tremendous performance from the Huskies, though both games were at home and I am weary to say the Huskies will continue to be a force.
What went wrong? Heading into conference play, the three top teams in the conference were Arizona, UCLA and Utah. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), the Bruins and Utes both came up on the short end of the weekend sweep broom and dramatically hindered their chances to win the conference. If UCLA or Utah is going to win the conference, they will need to play a near-perfect season from this point onward, which just isn't going to happen and makes things a little clearer at the top of the Pac-12.
Hot Shot of the Week: The man with a double name stole the show this weekend in Spokane. Andrew Andrews is the only senior in Washington's starting lineup and he had to carry the team on his back in the big weekend. Andrews scored 59 points across two games, including a 35 point performance against UCLA and the go-ahead bucket to complete the comeback against USC. Andrews hit eight long balls during the week, averaged six rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and was truly the most valuable player for any team this weekend.
Game of the Week: This one seems like it should be easy with Arizona playing UCLA on the road, but there is actually a game that intrigues me a little bit more. On Wednesday, California travels to Oregon. California is looking to flex its muscles and proove that it should be taken seriously. Oregon is looking for a much needed win to get back on track after the Oregon State loss. The Golden Bears' front court gets the advantage, but the Ducks get the advantage in the backcourt.
It should be an interesting game as a loss for Oregon at home would put it in a pretty big hole for the conference title race. I'll take the Ducks by four.