Inside Pac-10 Basketball

With the Pac-10 season now a quarter of the way complete, Cat Tracks looks inside the conference at the teams, the trends and tracks the award races that will play out over the course of the year. Arizona is a factor in everything and will be a major player in deciding who wins the conference championship once again this year.

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Pac-10 at the quarter turn

USC is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the conference and that could very well change this weekend when the Trojans make their first tough road trip to Arizona.

Oregon and UCLA are the two most dynamic offensive teams in the league and both are serious contenders for the regular season championship. Oregon has now beaten Arizona twice as well as Stanford and Cal. How the Ducks ever lost at ASU is beyond comprehension. UCLA played very well at USC in a four-point loss and then turned around and dominated No. 1 Kansas 87-77 Saturday in Pauley Pavilion.

Arizona is having defensive issues as of late and, if they don't get them solved, it could be a very long next month or so for the Wildcats. Jason Gardner is playing like Jason Terry did three years ago for Arizona, when he almost single-handedly led UofA to a second place conference finish. The Cats will need more out of the rest of their roster if they want to have those four wins over ranked teams early in the year mean something come March.

Cal and Stanford can't put together any lengthy winning streaks lately. First Stanford beats Cal by 20, only to have the Bears come back two days later and hand the Cardinal a 15-point defeat in Berkeley. Then both teams split on the Oregon trip and now sit tied for sixth place in the Pac-10 at 2-2.

After the top six teams comes a pretty large gap in the level of quality play. ASU had an impressive win over Oregon in Tempe (fluke) but also lost at Washington and got swept up in Oregon to start the conference season.

Washington has the most room for improvement and will likely knock someone off later in the year when they come to visit in Seattle. Oregon State looked great at Arizona but then got swept at home in Corvallis against Cal and Stanford a week later.

Then there's Washington State. The Cougars gave Arizona all it could handle before finally losing 92-85, but followed up that performance by getting beaten soundly by a very average (at-best) ASU team.

All in all, the Pac-10 conference looks like it's going to be about as crazy as it has ever been this season. And if ever the league is going to get six teams into the NCAA Tournament, this will be the year. Throw in the fact that ASU could make a run at an NIT berth as well and that could mean seven Pac-10 teams in postseason play come March. Not too bad.

Here's a look at the up-to-the-minute Pac-10 standings, power ratings and the all-important Awards race.

Power Rankings:
Rk. Team--Conf.; All--Pwr.Pts.--This Week (1/17-1/19)
1. USC 5-0; 13-2 +7 @Arizona, @ASU
2. Oregon 5-1; 12-4 +5 (1/19) @Oregon State
3. UCLA 4-1; 12-3 +5 @ASU, @Arizona
4. Arizona 4-2; 11-4 +4 USC, UCLA
5. Stanford 2-2; 9-4 +1 Washington, Wash. State
5. Cal 2-2; 11-3 +1 Wash. State, Washington
7. ASU 3-3; 10-5 +1 UCLA, USC
8. Washington 1-5; 7-9 -7 @Stanford, @Cal
8. Oregon State 1-5; 8-8 -7 (1/19) vs. Oregon
10. Washington St. 0-6; 4-10 -10 @Cal, @Stanford

Player of the Year Race:
Rk. Name, Class, Pos. Team Numbers (through 1/13/02)
1. Jason Gardner, Jr. G Arizona 22.1ppg, 3.5rpg, 4.8apg, 2.3spg
2. Sam Clancy, Sr. PF USC 16.7ppg, 9.1rpg, 2.2spg, 1.3bpg
3. Luke Ridnour, So. PG Oregon 14.2ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.2apg, 1.2spg
4. Jason Kapono, Jr. SF UCLA 18.1ppg, 5.9rpg, 48%FGs, 48% 3's
5. Curtis Borchardt, Jr. C Stanford 16.0ppg, 10.9rpg, 2.5bpg, 60%FGs
6. Luke Jackson, So. F Oregon 15.9ppg, 5.4rpg, 3.1apg, 1.0spg
7. Casey Jacobsen, Jr. G Stanford 19.9ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.2apg, 40% 3's
8. Luke Walton, Jr. F Arizona 11.8ppg, 7.4rpg, 5.6apg, 1.3spg
9. Matt Barnes, Sr. F UCLA 14.0ppg, 5.9rpg, 3.2apg, 50% 3's
10. Freddie Jones, Sr. G Oregon 15.7ppg, 4.6rpg, 2.3apg, 1.8spg

Freshman of the Year Race:
Rk. Name, Pos. Team Numbers (through 1/13/02)
1. Errick Craven, SG USC 12.3ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.8apg, 1.8spg
2. Channing Frye, C Arizona 9.3ppg, 6.9rpg, 1.8bpg, 59%FGs
3. Salim Stoudamire, SG Arizona 11.7ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.0apg, 41% 3's
4. Josh Childress, SF Stanford 9.6ppg, 4.8rpg, 41%FGs, 38% 3's
5. Erroll Knight, G Washington 8.2ppg, 3.4rpg, 46%FGs, 44% 3's

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