Kevin Parrom is looking forward to being able to play again without the pain caused by having two wisdom teeth removed.
Not that it caused any noticeable difficulty for the sophomore wing in Arizona's 76-57 win over Oregon to open the Pac-10 schedule.
Just seven days after having oral surgery, Parrom came off the bench at McArthur Court to score a career-high 20 points against Oregon.
"My (holiday) break was ... it was tough," Parrom said. "I couldn't really eat nothing. Just applesauce, pudding, milkshakes. But I'm fighting through it. It's helping me."
Parrom feasted on Duck four days after Christmas, shooting 8-for-9 from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. He added eight rebounds in his 21 minutes on the floor.
"I thought he was the best player on the court in many regards," coach Sean Miller said. "He did some other things beside shoot. He rebounded and had some really good passes. He's such a valuable player for us because he contributes in a lot of different areas."
Parrom noted that Oregon was double-teaming Derrick Williams, so the opportunity was there.
"My shot was falling early," he said, "and I picked it up from there."
Parrom and the Wildcats had a rougher time two nights later at Oregon State, falling 76-75. Parrom shot just 1-for-5 and had five points as Arizona dropped its third consecutive decision to the Beavers.
--The Wildcats shot 56 percent from the field in its 76-75 loss at Oregon State, but Arizona had 19 turnovers for the second straight game, shot only 6-for-20 from 3-point range and missed 11 free throws.
--Arizona has lost three straight games to Oregon State and has dropped six of its past 13 contests at Gill Coliseum.
--The Wildcats have beaten Oregon five straight since losing three in a row in the series for the first time since the 1982-83 and '83-84 seasons.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- Field-goal attempts by sophomore F Derrick Williams in the win over Oregon. He made two of them, along with eight of 11 foul shots, to score an efficient, albeit season-low, 12 points.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They chose to play that way and made it really difficult to get the ball to Derrick. But Derrick's unselfish, and he made some really good passes." -- Arizona coach Sean Miller, on how the Wildcats took advantage of Oregon's decision to gang up defensively on Derrick Miller.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Cal, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Cal has won three of the past four meetings with Arizona, but this is a different Bears squad. Cal returns this season with players who totaled just nine points in the two games a year ago, so Arizona will see plenty of fresh faces in video in the days leading to this matchup. Arizona has beaten Cal 14 of the past 15 years at McKale Center.
--vs. Stanford, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Wildcats will try to contain Stanford junior SG Jeremy Green, who totaled 40 points in two games vs. Arizona a year ago, including 25 in Tucson. Arizona sophomore G MoMo Jones had one of the big moments of his young career against Stanford last season, hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the Cats' win at Stanford.
FUTURES MARKET: Junior F Jesse Perry, who arrived this season as a junior college transfer, has taken a starting job from senior Jamelle Horne and is making the most of it. He had nine points and eight rebounds in the win at Oregon. Over the past four games through Jan. 2, he was averaging 10 points and 5.0 rebounds and shooting 62 percent from the field. In the Cats' first 11 games, he produced just 4.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg and shot 36 percent.
--Sophomore F Solomon Hill had 12 points and seven rebounds against Oregon, then had just six points and five rebounds against Oregon State before fouling out.
--Sophomore G MoMo Jones scored a team-high 20 points vs. Oregon State, but he missed a shot late that could have given the lead to Arizona. He had made nine of his first 11 shots.
--Sophomore F Derrick Williams scored 16 points including a 3-point basket that got Arizona within one point with 0.1 seconds left against Oregon State. Williams shot 6-for-6 from the field, but he was only 3-for-10 from the foul line.
The Sun Devils could have felt sorry for themselves after an embarrassing 80-58 loss at Oregon State.
They could have been intimidated by an Oregon crowd zealous about celebrating the final men's basketball game in 83-year-old McArthur Court.
They could have thrown up their hands without leading scorer and rebounder Trent Lockett, who missed both games with a toe injury.
Instead, Arizona State returns home to face the Bay Area schools feeling good about itself after a 60-55 win over the Ducks.
"I thought our guys really showed a lot of heart tonight to come into this environment and find a way to get a win," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "It makes me really proud."
Stanford and Cal will find themselves looking at a couple unfamiliar faces when they prepare their scouting reports for the Sun Devils.
Who is Carrick Felix? He scored 19 points against Oregon as Lockett's replacement.
And Brandon Dunson? A junior college transfer, Dunson scored 14 points in the final game at Mac Court.
Felix, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, did a little of everything for the Sun Devils in his second start. And Dunson, a junior guard and JC transfer, provided extra punch when senior Ty Abbott had a quiet night.
Suddenly, the Sun Devils appear to have a few more weapons.
--The Sun Devils played both games in Oregon without leading scorer Trent Lockett, who sprained a big toe last week in practice. Lockett averages 14.7 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds, and his 59 free-throw attempts were more than twice as many as any other Arizona State player had through Jan. 1.
--Arizona State's loss at Oregon State snapped a six-game winning streak in the series.
--Oregon State entered the Pac-10 opener as the league's worst rebounding team but beat Arizona State 43-26 on the boards.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- Offensive rebounds Arizona State allowed Oregon State in its 80-58 victory in the Pac-10 opener.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You could start rattling off explanations and excuses, but the bottom line is we weren't nearly good enough in any facet of the game to give ourselves a chance to win." -- Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, after the 80-58 loss at Oregon State.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Stanford, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Arizona State swept two regular-season meetings with Stanford a year ago, then lost 70-61 to the Cardinal in the Pac-10 tournament. The game at Wells Fargo Arena was particularly memorable, with the Sun Devils racing out to a 54-17 lead in the first half. Arizona State will focus its defense on Stanford junior SG Jeremy Green, the team's top scorer who shot just 15-for-47 in the three games a year ago.
--vs. Cal, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: Arizona State has struggled to hold serve at home against the Bears, losing six of the past seven in Tempe. Senior SG Ty Abbott has enjoyed some huge games against Cal, including a 20-point performance at home last season. As a freshman, Abbott had 50 points in two games vs. Cal, including 30 in one game. The Sun Devils, starved for scoring, would be well-served to get Abbott off to a good start.
FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore wing Carrick Felix, starting in place of injured Trent Lockett, may have earned some additional playing time after scoring a career-high 19 points in Arizona State's win over Oregon. Felix scored a layup with 33 seconds left and added a pair of free throws down the stretch. He also had six rebounds and four assists. "I've had a lot of role models like Ty (Abbott) and Trent and Jamelle (McMillan), and it was very important for me to just keep playing hard," Felix said. "I knew my time was going to come. I just want to thank my teammates for pushing me."
--Senior SG Ty Abbott scored 18 points at Oregon State, but none after halftime. He had just four points in the win at Oregon.
--Senior F Rihards Kuksiks had a lost weekend in Oregon. He was scoreless on five shots in the loss at Oregon State, then managed just six points on 2-for-6 shooting vs. the Ducks.
--Junior G Brandon Dunson, a junior college transfer, scored a career-high 14 points in the win at Oregon. Dunson was scoreless in Arizona State's first eight games this season.
The Golden Bears understand their offense isn't ready for prime time. So when their defense abandons them, it's trouble.
Cal allowed rival Stanford to shoot 72 percent in the second half in the teams' Pac-10 opener, and the result was a predictable 82-68 defeat.
"We can't give up 82 points and expect to win," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.
The Bears will need to tighten the bolt in their next game at Arizona, which will be smarting after a loss at Oregon State and eager to take it out on someone.
Cal, which has shot the ball poorly much of the season, actually converted 51 percent from the field against the Cardinal. It was just the fourth time in 13 games the Bears made at least half their attempts.
But 16 turnovers and non-existent defense were their undoing.
"We've been a team that's prided ourselves on defense," junior forward Harper Kamp said. "We just didn't show up today."
The Bears appeared a step slow, an inch short and a tad bit less athletic than Stanford. It's going to be a problem, especially if senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison continues to battle foul problems.
When he goes out, the Bears answer with either Bak Bak or Richard Solomon, both young, erratic and short on muscle.
--Coach Mike Montgomery is now 3-2 against his old school, Stanford, including 1-2 at Maples Pavilion.
--The Bears strayed from their usual man-to-man defense against Stanford, playing some 2-3 zone and even a box-and-one alignment against Cardinal guard Jeremy Green. Nothing worked -- he had 21 points.
--Cal surrendered 18 points off its 16 turnovers against Stanford, and its bench was outscored 21-19.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Times senior C Markhuri Sanders-Frison had fouled out this season through Jan. 2.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just couldn't get stops. They kind of had their way with us." -- Cal coach Mike Montgomery after watching Stanford score 44 second-half points.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Arizona, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Arizona sophomore F Derrick Williams is a difficult matchup for most teams, but Cal's frontcourt players may have trouble matching his quickness. Williams had 32 points and 17 rebounds in two games against the Bears last year, and he is adept of drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.
--at Arizona State, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Bears celebrated clinching a tie for their first Pac-10 title in 50 seasons with their home victory over Arizona State a year ago. They put the defensive clamps on the combo of Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks in that one, limiting the pair to 10 points on 5-for-20 shooting. But Abbott has often been a thorn in Cal's side, including a 20-point game at Tempe last year, and a 30-point outburst in 2008 when Abbott was a freshman.
FUTURES MARKET: Perhaps freshman G Gary Franklin will get another shot at the starting lineup. He scored 15 points -- his best game in more than a month -- and had four assists in the loss to Stanford. He entered the game shooting 27 percent from the 3-point arc and made four of seven. Coach Mike Montgomery said Franklin wasn't demoted from the starting group because he's not a good player, but that he needed a change of pace, perhaps something that would ease the pressure. Maybe it worked. "I tried to shoot in the flow of the game. It definitely gives me a lot of confidence," Franklin said.
--Junior F Harper Kamp scored 16 points against Stanford but was at times helpless to stop Cardinal freshman Dwight Powell, who had a career-high 20 points.
--Sophomore PG Brandon Smith, after scoring a career-high 15 points in his first career start vs. Hartford, had just one point, one assist and two turnovers in 14 tepid minutes against the Cardinal.
--Junior G Jorge Gutierrez had 11 points and eight assists vs. Stanford, but he shot only 4-for-11 and turned the ball over four times. It was his fifth consecutive game with at least three turnovers.
The Ducks' next home game, Jan. 13 against USC, will be its first not played at McArthur Court since 1927. That was the same year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs.
Oregon closed out Mac Court's 83-year run with losses to Arizona and Arizona State to open Pac-10 play.
"For me personally, Mac Court has been a really special place for me, and I wanted to come out with a big bang in the last big game here at Mac," Oregon sophomore E.J. Singler said.
"That's a real disappointing loss," coach Dana Altman said. "I thought our guys played hard, we just didn't play smart offensively or defensively. That's my job to get 'em to play smart, and we're not doing that."
Oregon travels to Washington this weekend, then returns to christen the new $227 million Matthew Knight Arena, named after the late son of booster and Nike co-founder Phil Knight.
The second-oldest active on-campus arena in Division I, Mac Court is beloved in Eugene, Ore. Oregon first played there on Jan. 14, 1927, defeating Willamette 38-10. Twelve years later it housed Oregon's famed "Tall Firs" team, which beat Ohio State 46-33 to win the first NCAA basketball championship.
But for all its charm, the place is too small and outdated.
Asked what excites him most about the team's new home, senior Joevan Catron said, "No flies. ... But no, I took a little tour last week and the place is just amazing.
"Maybe that might be a start to getting our season on the other end. So I'm ready to get out of this building and try and refresh ourselves."
--The Ducks scheduled Jan. 13 for the debut of Matthew Knight Arena because they wanted to be sure students were back from the holidays. As it turns out, the Oregon football team is playing in the BCS national championship game against top-ranked Auburn on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
--Mac Court has not been strictly a basketball venue. Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy campaigned for the 1968 Oregon primary at "The Pit," and Bill Clinton appeared there in 1992 before being elected president. Elvis Presley and the Grateful Dead performed at the arena.
--Oregon forced Arizona into 19 turnovers but converted just one of those possessions into points. "Our press was effective," coach Dana Altman said. "We didn't cash in on 'em."
BY THE NUMBERS: 5.8 -- Oregon's 3-point shooting percentage -- 1-for-17 -- in the loss to Arizona.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They've got to keep shooting 'em, and we've got to keep working with 'em. I don't think we're a great shooting team, but I think we're better than we've shown." -- First-year coach Dana Altman, on the Ducks' ongoing shooting woes.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Washington, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Oregon wants to pressure full-court under Dana Altman, but that could backfire against the Huskies, who have great depth in the backcourt and thrive in an up-tempo atmosphere. The Ducks will have to keep track of junior G Isaiah Thomas, who is equally skilled as a scorer or facilitator. Oregon pulled a huge upset last season, beating Washington 90-70 at Bank of America Arena. The Ducks' only chance this year may be to keep the Huskies from getting off to a fast start and perhaps taking some wind out of the sails of the enthusiastic Seattle fans.
--vs. Washington State, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Ducks won three straight vs. Washington State a year ago, including one in overtime and another in double OT. But Oregon doesn't have nearly the same firepower this season, so defending the Cougars' perimeter will be the key. Washington State features a range of shooters, starting with junior SG Klay Thompson, the Pac-10's leading scorer, who scored 75 points in the three games last season.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman G Johnathan Loyd made his first start of the season against Arizona and played 26 minutes, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. He started again vs. Arizona State, and things went no better: no points, 0-for-2 shooting. Coach Dana Altman's tinkering continues.
--Sophomore F E.J. Singler will be the answer to the trivia question: Which Oregon player scored the most points in the team's final game at McArthur Court? Singler scored 19 points to go with nine rebounds.
--Junior F Jeremy Jacob scored a season-high 17 points against Arizona, then shot 1-for-7 in the loss to Arizona State.
--Senior F Joevan Catron had 11 points and five rebounds vs. Arizona State.
Don't be surprised if the Beavers practice twice a day between games from now on.
Coach Craig Robinson was so unhappy with his club's practice on the day after its Dec. 30 win over Arizona State in the Pac-10 opener that he ran the team through two practices on Jan. 1.
On Jan. 2, the Beavers beat Arizona 76-75 to begin the conference 2-0 for the first time in seven seasons.
The man in the middle of things, literally, was sophomore center Joe Burton, who came to life with the start of Pac-10 play.
He had 17 points and eight rebounds in the 80-58 rout of Arizona State, then scored 16 points against the Wildcats, including the key go-ahead basket in the lane with 28 seconds left.
Robinson said Burton's emergence as a scoring threat can change the dynamic of Oregon State's attack.
"To see Joe score this many points is exciting for us because Joe's first inclination is not to be a scorer," Robinson said. "He's always a pass-first guy, and we needed him to score some points in the paint so they would have to worry about him down there."
Burton, who is 6-foot-7, dropped 30 pounds before this season, but he still has had foul trouble.
"We have to remember, Joe's only a sophomore," Robinson said. "I hate using the euphemisms that everybody uses like sophomore slump, but there is an adjustment to make your sophomore year when you come back, and Joe's a completely different player than he was last year."
And the Beavers are happy about it.
--Oregon State has beaten Arizona three straight times overall and six times in their past 13 meetings at Gill Coliseum.
--With their victory over Arizona State, the Beavers had their first win to start Pac-10 play since an 85-80 win over UCLA in the 2004-05 season.
--Oregon State broke a six-game losing streak to Arizona State.
--The Beavers outscored Arizona State 40-18 in the paint and outrebounded the Sun Devils 43-26.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Games in which the Beavers had scored 80 points or more, through Jan. 2. They reached that total once all of last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've played two good games in a row. Can we do three, with a short turnaround? I don't know, but it feels like it." -- Coach Craig Robinson, on the eve of the Beavers' 76-75 win over Arizona.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Washington State, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: These teams split games the past two seasons, all relatively low-scoring affairs. Washington State will want to play faster this season, so the Beavers need to manage tempo and try to contain the Cougars' top perimeter shooters Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden. Curiously, Thompson scored just seven points last year in Washington State's win over the Beavers, but he had 18 in the loss.
--at Washington, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: Oregon State hopes to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Huskies, but it won't be easy. Washington averaged nearly 84 points in the first six of those, then was limited to 59 in the most recent meeting, yet still won. Washington's size, with 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye and 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning, could pose a problem for Oregon State's smaller frontcourt.
FUTURES MARKET: The Beavers waited a long time for Roberto Nelson. Finally eligible after sitting out all of last season, the redshirt freshman guard averaged 9.2 points and three rebounds in his five games for Oregon State. "It's really big," coach Craig Robinson said. "I don't want to say he's instant offense because he doesn't just do offense. He is a competitor coming off the bench. He's an offensive threat coming off the bench."
Nelson had a tougher time against Arizona, shooting 0-for-5 and going scoreless in 18 minutes.
--Sophomore PG Jared Cunningham had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists against Arizona State, then collected 17 points and five steals against Arizona.
--Sophomore F Joe Burton led Oregon State with 17 points and nine rebounds against Arizona State. He followed that with 16 points against Arizona.
--Senior G Calvin Haynes led the Beavers with 18 points against Arizona, assisted Burton on his go-ahead basket in the final minute, then made four free throws to help clinch the win.
Coach Johnny Dawkins sat down a couple of times to talk with freshman forward Dwight Powell about becoming more assertive.
"It was definitely direct," Powell said of their visits. "He wanted to make sure if I had open looks, I'd take advantage of them."
Apparently, Powell got the word.
He scored a career-high 20 points in Stanford's 82-68 win over Cal in the Pac-10 opener at Maples Pavilion, and he appears to be just scratching the surface of what conference opponents can expect to see.
The 6-foot-9 Canadian-born forward shot 7-for-11 from the field, made six of seven free throws, grabbed seven rebounds, had two assists and only turned the ball over once in 28 minutes.
He scored on jumpers, post-ups, drives to the basket and one spectacular pick-and-roll dunk.
Powell, who started the first 10 games of the season, has been coming off the bench. With freshman reserve forward Stefan Nastic still sidelined by a foot injury, Dawkins wanted a player of Powell's varying talents available to sub in.
"He's long enough and mobile to go in there and create matchup problems at times," Dawkins said.
Added Cal junior Harper Kamp, normally a tough defender, "He showed a lot of skill tonight. He was able to jump up and knock down some jumpers. I didn't probably prepare for him specifically as much as I should have."
Pretty soon, everyone in the Pac-10 will have to change its approach on that.
--Stanford shot 57.4 percent against Cal, including 72.2 percent (13-for-18) in the second half.
--Three freshmen combined to score 41 points -- a season best -- against Cal.
--Stanford managed just two offensive rebounds against Cal, but by dropping back on defense, the Cardinal managed to neutralize the Bears' transition game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Points scored by freshmen Dwight Powell, Anthony Brown and Aaron Bright during a 21-9 surge midway through the second half that propelled the Cardinal past Cal.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're excited. Now we're 1-0 in Pac-10 play. I think we've got a chance to be as good as anyone." -- Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Arizona State, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Stanford must find a way to enable junior SG Jeremy Green to find a rhythm. A year ago, he shot 9-for-35 in two losses to Arizona State, then was 6-for-12 and scored 18 points as the Cardinal beat the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 tournament. The Cardinal will have to cope with ASU's zone defense and patient offensive approach.
--at Arizona, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cardinal must try to contain sophomore F Derrick Williams, who burned them last year for 47 points in two Arizona victories. Williams is a difficult combination of quick and strong, and Stanford has no obvious solution for slowing him. If the game is close late, Stanford will know to stay close to sophomore G MoMo Jones, whose shot at the buzzer decided last year's game at Stanford.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman Aaron Bright was moved into the starting lineup for the Dec. 28 game against Yale, and the switch appeared to be paying dividends. He presence allows junior G Jarrett Mann to move off the point more often, allowing him to attack the basket and concentrate on defense. Bright is quick and unafraid to shoot the ball, as evidenced by his 15-point performance at Oklahoma State. He had 10 points and four assists against Cal.
--Junior G Jeremy Green scored 21 points against Cal, including 14 in the first half when he escaped a variety of defensive tactics, including a 2-3 zone and a box-and-one alignment. In spite of that, he was 4-for-4 from the 3-point line in the half.
--Freshman G Anthony Brown had 11 points and no turnovers in 22 minutes against Cal. He shot 4-for-6, including a long 3-point shot when Stanford was close to a shot-clock violation.
--Freshman F Stefan Nastic had missed the past five games through Jan. 2 with a stress reaction in his foot. He was expected to return in another two to three weeks.
By the time the Bruins line up against rival USC in their next game, coach Ben Howland hopes they will have remedied the one thing that may have cost them a 2-0 start in the Pac-10.
After beating Washington State to open conference play at home, UCLA faltered against preseason Pac-10 favorite Washington 74-63. The Bruins struggled to shoot well, but Howland was particularly disturbed by his club's 25-for-36 effort at the foul line.
"If you're going to beat the team picked to win the conference," Howland said, "you've got to make your foul shots."
That failing left UCLA 1-1 in the conference, snapping its six-game overall win streak.
The Bruins battled back from a 17-point deficit, pulling within six points with 3 1/2 minutes left before the Huskies asserted themselves.
Two days earlier, the Bruins climbed over the hump to rally past Washington State.
"I'm really proud of our team, the way we showed the character to fight back," Howland said. "This is a huge win for us."
The Bruins expected more from themselves.
"We wanted to come out of the weekend 2-0," sophomore forward Reeves Nelson said, "but I think we're going to have a good week of practice after this and try to improve where we need to. I think we'll just rebound and work hard and see what happens."
--The Bruins shot just 8-for-29 from 3-point range against the Washington schools, including 2-for-11 against the Huskies.
--UCLA's bench was outscored 45-14 in the two games against the Washington schools.
--Coach Ben Howland said that freshman C Joshua Smith's propensity for picking up fouls while jumping out to hedge on defense may force him to keep the 6-foot-10, 305-pounder in the paint to challenge players driving to the basket.
BY THE NUMBERS: 44 -- UCLA victories over Washington State at Pauley Pavilion against just two defeats.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It came really close. They were the team that lost out to UCLA. I really considered going there. I thought about it. I still think about it, but I made the right decision to come down here." -- UCLA freshman C Josh Smith, on signing with the Bruins over Washington.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at USC, Jan. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: USC swept both games last year and has won three in a row in the series. This promises to be a matchup of two of the league's best frontcourts, with the Trojans' duo of Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic set to duel Joshua Smith and Reeves Nelson. The Bruins may have an edge with 6-foot-8 SF Tyler Honeycutt, who poses a challenging inside-outside threat.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman C Joshua Smith had a rough day against Washington, the school he grew up watching in Kent, Wash., and the destination he eschewed to attend UCLA. He had nine points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes before fouling out.
"I'm disappointed in the game. I'm disappointed with how I played," Smith said. "My first time fouling out, I missed three free throws, I missed a couple of layups. I don't even want to check my phone or my Facebook or anything."
--Junior PG Lazeric Jones finished with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists with only one turnover in the Bruins' win over Washington State. Against Washington, Jones played only 16 minutes after injuring a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand in the first half.
--Sophomore F Reeves Nelson had a pair of double-doubles against the Washington schools, totaling 40 points and 21 rebounds in two games while shooting a combined 15-for-25 from the field.
--Junior G Malcolm Lee had a strong weekend vs. the Northwest schools with 33 points, including 21 in the victory over Washington State. He also helped limit Washington State's high-scoring Klay Thompson to 6-for-17 shooting.
It's back down to earth for the Trojans, the Pac-10's trendy pick after a late-December hot streak.
"Guess we're not Top 20 like everyone thought," USC coach Kevin O'Neill after USC lost 73-67 in overtime to preseason conference pick Washington.
The Trojans must transform the consolation of a weekend split into momentum heading into their cross-town battle with UCLA.
It's a tough first two weeks of the conference schedule for the Trojans, who seemed very much up to the task after non-league victories over Texas and Tennessee and a near-miss at Kansas.
They squandered a career night by junior forward Nikola Vucevic in the loss to Washington but showed some grit by regrouping nicely to claim a 60-56 win over Washington State. USC held a 13-point lead in the game, watched the Cougars trim it to five, then held on.
"We almost blew the lead," O'Neill said, "but we didn't."
--The Trojans beat Washington State 34-27 on the boards after getting pounded 42-28 by Washington.
--USC had just 18 turnovers combined against the Washington schools.
--USC's reserves were outscored 29-7 by Washington's bench.
BY THE NUMBERS: 166 -- Minutes played (out of a possible 180) by starters Alex Stepheson, Nikola Vucevic, Jio Fontan and Maurice Jones in the Trojans' overtime loss to Washington. All four were on the floor at least 40 minutes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Washington, they left the building with a 'W,' but we're hunting them. We can't wait to go to their place and try to steal one from them." -- Trojans PG Jio Fontan, after the 73-67 overtime loss to Washington.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. UCLA, Jan. 9
KEY MATCHUPS: USC coach Kevin O'Neill has said junior PG Jio Fontan is his best player. Fontan gets the chance to prove it against cross-town rival UCLA, which will oppose him with JC transfer Lazeric Jones or junior Jerime Anderson. Senior Marcus Simmons figures to be assigned to shadow 6-foot-8 SF Tyler Honeycutt. Won't be easy.
FUTURES MARKET: The Trojans have a verbal commitment from Santa Ana-Mater Dei High guard Katin Reinhardt, a 6-foot-5 junior. Reinhardt attended USC's game against Washington State, then committed afterward.
--Junior PG Jio Fontan struggled against Washington, scoring 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting.
--Junior F Nikola Vucevic had a career-high 28 points along with 14 rebounds in the loss to Washington. He followed that with 12 points and 11 boards against Washington State for his ninth double-double of the season. He shot 17-for-17 from the free-throw line in the two games.
--Senior G Donte Smith, who had 14 points in the win over Washington State, had shot 50 percent (21-for-42) from the 3-point arc in his past seven games through Jan. 1.
The Huskies return home having pulled off a sweep in what promises to be their toughest road set in the Pac-10. Seems they deserve their status as conference favorites.
Washington is riding high after beating USC 73-67 in overtime, then putting away UCLA 74-63 in Los Angeles.
It marked the first time in 35 years the Huskies have opened the Pac-10 schedule with a two-game road sweep. The last time they did it was 1976 against Cal and Stanford.
Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar wasn't ready to clear space yet for a Pac-10 championship trophy.
"We had a very good week, about as good of an opening week as we've had since we've been here," he said. "Beyond that, it means absolutely nothing because we have 16 more. Oregon swept on the road (in the opener) last year, and it didn't turn out too good for them.
"We want to avoid that. We've got to be hungry, and we've got to keep getting better."
Still, this was a huge statement weekend for the Huskies, who had lost close games away from home to Kentucky, Michigan State and Texas A&M.
Romar was thrilled with the victory over USC, which came into the game riding momentum following a series of strong recent performances.
"I can't think of a whole lot of wins that I'm as excited about as I am tonight," he said. "We got down. We appeared to be rattled. Our guys stayed together and guarded and slowly fought their way back into it. It was a great, great character win."
--The Huskies pulled off their first road sweep in Los Angeles since 2006 and only their third ever.
--Washington limited the USC to 34.5 percent shooting from the field and UCLA to 35.3 percent. The Huskies' two opponents combined to make just seven of 32 shots from 3-point range.
--The Huskies won twice in Los Angeles despite shooting just 11-for-34 on the trip, including 4-for-15 vs. UCLA.
BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- All-time Washington victories at Pauley Pavilion after the Huskies' 74-63 win on the opening weekend of the Pac-10 season. The previous three came in 2006, 1987 and 1980.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "With the football team winning, we knew we had to win this game." -- Washington junior Isaiah Thomas, after the win over UCLA, referring to the Huskies' Holiday Bowl triumph over Nebraska.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Oregon, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Seems like a dream assignment for the Huskies, who return home after two big wins in Los Angeles. Oregon likes to press, which would seem to play directly into Washington's strength as an up-tempo team with guard depth. Oregon, with different personnel, managed to upset the Huskies 90-79 in Seattle last year. Figure junior G Isaiah Thomas to take the rematch very personally.
--vs. Oregon State, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Huskies have won seven straight in this series and would seem too deep, too big and too talented for the Beavers. On the road, it could be a trap game, but the Bank of America crowd should keep the Huskies sharp. They will try to take guards Jared Cunningham and Calvin Haynes off balance and play the game faster than Oregon State wants.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman F Terrence Ross had a breakthrough game, scoring a career-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and had four rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes in the win at USC. He had averaged just 3.6 ppg over the previous eight games.
"It was big," Ross said. "It was big for me. It was big for the team. This is definitely something that we wanted to start the Pac-10 season off with. ... I was open. I couldn't hesitate. Coach said if I was open, I should shoot the ball. That's what I had to do."
--Senior F Matthew Bryan-Amaning had a huge weekend in L.A., totaling 39 points and 18 rebounds. He had 21 and 10 against UCLA.
--Junior G Isaiah Thomas was in complete control of the floor against UCLA, scoring 17 points and dishing nine assists. "Isaiah just makes things easier for everybody when he's going like that," Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. "He can score when he wants to score, and when he wants to distribute, he's really unstoppable.
--Freshman G C.J. Wilcox sat out the USC game with a sore hip and scored two points in a four-minute stint vs. UCLA.
The Cougars should be happy to be home again after a 14-day road trip that included stops in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii and Los Angeles.
It all went well enough at the outset, with victories over Santa Clara, Mississippi State and Baylor. Then Washington State fell to Butler in the finals of the Diamond Head Classic before trekking to Southern California, where the losing streak reached three games after an 80-71 setback to UCLA and a 60-56 defeat at USC.
Were the Cougars merely tired?
"We played the game plan," Washington State coach Ken Bone said after the USC loss. "We tried the best we could, and we didn't do what we usually do really well. We didn't make shots."
The Cougars shot just 36.7 percent in the loss at USC.
"I thought we executed," junior forward DeAngelo Casto said. "We came off screens hard, we had open shots, we had good pick-and-rolls, good pick-and-pops. We just couldn't finish it off."
As the Cougars prepare to get things right at home against the Oregon schools, junior forward Abe Lodwick said the team is keeping an eye on the big picture.
"We're not the team we want to be right now," Lodwick said. "We want to be the best we can be in March. We've got to learn how to close games out. The best teams in the nation are winning those games."
--Junior G Klay Thompson, who led the Pac-10 in scoring through Jan. 1, was the object of serious defensive attention in Los Angeles. He shot a combined 12-for-35 in the two losses, although he did still score 43 points, owing partly to a 12-for-12 free throw effort vs. UCLA.
--The Cougars had averaged 80.8 points in their first 10 victories, just 63.3 in four defeats.
--Washington State dropped to 2-44 in games against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 -- 3-point field goals by Cougars other than Klay Thompson in Los Angeles. Thompson was 6-for-9 from long range; his teammates were 3-for-16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They stopped me from getting to the rim and made me pull up more." -- Cougars SG Klay Thompson, after shooting 6-for-17 in the loss at UCLA.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6
KEY MATCHUPS: Washington State should be properly motivated for this game, coming off two weeks on the road and riding three straight defeats. The teams split games each of the past two seasons, with all four games played in the 50s or low 60s. Expect the Cougars to try pushing the pace here. The key will be getting G Faisal Aden off to a good start after his rough time at USC.
--vs. Oregon, Jan. 8
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cougars probably feel they should have taken two of three from Oregon a year ago, but they lost all three, including games in overtime and double OT. The Ducks have two primary offensive weapons in senior PF Joevan Catron and sophomore wing E.J. Singler. Junior F DeAngelo Casto figures to draw the assignment of chasing Catron and any number of Washington State players could chase Singler.
FUTURES MARKET: The Cougars may want to find sophomore F Brock Motum of Australia more playing time. In the team's first 10 victories, he averaged nearly 20 minutes on the floor and has produced 9.6 ppg. In the first four defeats, he was playing just 15 minutes and averaging 4.0 ppg.
--Sophomore PG Reggie Moore had a rough weekend in Los Angeles, shooting a combined 3-for-18 while scoring 12 points.
--Junior G Faisal Aden had 19 points off the bench against UCLA, then lost his aim and was 2-for-11 for four points at USC.
--Junior PF DeAngelo Casto had 18 points and eight rebounds against USC.
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