The Wildcats head to Seattle this week presenting a clear challenge to host Washington: Just try to stop Derrick Williams.
Arizona's sophomore power forward equaled his career high with 31 points in an 80-69 victory over rival Arizona State that kept the Wildcats even in the loss column with the Huskies atop the Pac-10 standings.
Williams has been almost unstoppable in recent weeks -- perhaps the nation's best player west of Jimmer Fredette.
During the Wildcats' three-game win streak through Jan. 16, he twice scored 31 points and was averaging 25.3. The clearest sign that no team can physically cope with him: He'd attempted 44 free throws the past three games, 56 the past four.
Now Williams and Arizona (15-3, 4-1 Pac-10) visit Washington and its 9-0 home record in a battle of Cats and Dawgs for the top spot in the Pac-10.
The Huskies have quickness, size and depth, but perhaps no one who can quite match up with the combination of skills and dimensions of the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Williams.
"He's such a mismatch," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "If you're too big, he's too quick for you. If you're not big enough, he's become physically bigger and stronger and he overpowers you.
"A year ago, the second part of the equation wasn't as pronounced. He wasn't as comfortable overpowering you. Now he can do both."
Arizona State held Williams to 15 points in a 73-69 Sun Devils victory at McKale Center a year ago.
But three days after McKale was filled with mourners, including President Barack Obama, for a memorial service to the six killed Jan. 8 by a gunman outside a Tucson supermarket, Williams dominated the floor.
He shot 8-for-12 from the field, 15-for-16 from the foul line and grabbed 10 rebounds. Arizona State's matchup zone defense could not keep Williams away from the basket.
--The Wildcats had attempted more free throws and made a better percentage than any Pac-10 team through Jan. 16. They were 26-for-31 against Arizona State, maintaining their top spot in both categories.
--Arizona boasted the Pac-10's top rebounding margin of plus-6.7 per game through Jan. 16 after dominating the Sun Devils 35-21 on the boards.
--Arizona improved to 11-0 at home with its win over Arizona State.
BY THE NUMBERS: 174 -- Free-throw attempts by sophomore Derrick Williams, most of any player in Division I through Jan. 16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's emerged as one of the special players in college basketball." -- Arizona coach Sean Miller, on sophomore F Derrick Williams.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Washington, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: First place in the conference will be on the line here. The home team has won the past seven meetings between these teams, and Washington is 9-0 at Bank of America Arena this season. The Wildcats will try to neutralize Washington's great size inside with 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye and 6-9 Matthew Bryan-Amaning, but they also must concern themselves with the Huskies' prolific perimeter game.
--at Washington State, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cougars have won three straight in this series for the first time since 1983-84, and their victories at Friel Court were by margins of 18 and 16 points. Arizona must keep track of Washington State junior G Klay Thompson, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring and erupted for 36 at Cal last week. But Arizona struggled last year to contain PF DeAngelo Casto, who scored 35 points in the two games, including the game-winning basket at Tucson.
FUTURES MARKET: Arizona recruit Josiah Turner recently announced that he was transferring out of Sacramento High immediately, although he did not have a new school identified at the time. Asked his opinion, Arizona coach Sean Miller said, "I'm not concerned."
--Sophomore PF Derrick Williams' 31-point effort included his 10th game this season with at least 10 free-throw attempts. He was 15-for-16.
--Junior F Jesse Perry had 13 points against Arizona State, 11 of them in the first half. He shot 6-for-9 from the field after a three-game stretch where he was just 3-for-11.
--Sophomore F Solomon Hill shot 7-for-8 from the foul line to score 11 points against Arizona State.
Arizona State's recent run of success against rival Arizona at the Wildcats' McKale Center has ended.
After beating the Cats on their home court the past three years, the Sun Devils (9-8, 1-4 Pac-10) had no remedy for Derrick Williams, whose 31 points powered Arizona to an 80-69 victory.
"We certainly didn't do a very good job (of defending him), and I don't know who has yet," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "He's a tremendous player. ... We had no answer for him."
For the Sun Devils, the real question is where they go from here.
They have dropped three straight conference games and now head north to face Washington State and Washington.
Frankly, the Sun Devils don't have much going for them right now. They are getting bludgeoned on the boards, they are not consistently delivering from the 3-point arc, their matchup zone defense is not exactly driving opponents batty, and senior point guard Jamelle McMillan still is trying to get right after missing three games with a groin injury.
It's beginning to look as if it could be a long season for Arizona State.
Sendek hopes that's not the case.
"I can't tell you how hard our guys work," Sendek said. "We see streaks of really encouraging play and moments where we have some really good runs. We just haven't been able to find any consistency early in this Pac-10 season."
--Prior to its 69-59 win over Tulsa, Arizona State had led by as many as 20 points in a game just once all season, for a total of 85 seconds. The Sun Devils led by 23 points against Tulsa.
--Arizona State was outrebounded 35-21 by Arizona and coughed up 15 turnovers.
--Herb Sendek is the only Pac-10 coach to win 20 games each of the past three seasons, but that streak seems in jeopardy.
BY THE NUMBERS: 17 -- Victories by Arizona State in games decided by five points or fewer over the past four seasons through Jan. 16. The Sun Devils had lost just 10 times in those situations. Five of the 17 wins came at the expense of rival Arizona.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'd like 'em to get the ball better. This is one of those things, it's not real complicated. It's not like we've got to go into a scientific laboratory. We've got to get the ball better. That has been our Achilles' (heel) as much as anything the last few games. We've had a series of games where that's really been our demise." -- Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, on the club's inability to keep opponents away from the offensive boards.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Washington State, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cougars had won six straight in this series before last year, when Arizona State won by 25 at home and by 11 in Pullman. Senior G Ty Abbott will be a key for Arizona State. He scored 18 and 17 points in the two victories last season. The Sun Devils need to keep an eye on Washington State junior SG Klay Thompson, the league's top scorer and a spectacular perimeter shooter.
--at Washington, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: This will be a tough assignment for the Sun Devils, who have won just once in the past seven seasons in Seattle. Sophomore 7-footer Rusland Pateev will need to help neutralize Washington 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye, a strong rebounder/shot blocker. Arizona State hopes its offensive pace and matchup zone defense can slow the Huskies, who will try to play fast and are always energized by their home crowd.
FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore walk-on Marcus Jackson started at point guard against Tulsa while the Sun Devils awaited the return to health of senior Jamelle McMillan, "What he's done is relatively amazing," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "He goes from never playing at all. We literally have thrown him in the pool with his clothes on and his shoes. ... Everyone's talking about how he's kind of steadied us and not turned it over, he's not missing any assignments on defense. He's really anchored that very well for us as well."
Jackson had three points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and took two charges against Tulsa, then gave way as McMillan returned to start vs. Arizona.
--Senior G Ty Abbott hit seven of his first 10 3-point attempts in the win against Tulsa. He finished with a season-high 25 points, a season-high nine rebounds and five assists. He had 14 points vs. Arizona, and he was averaging 19.0 over the past three games through Jan. 16.
--Sophomore F Carrick Felix, a transfer from College of Southern Idaho, showed he may be ready to fill the void in Arizona State's offense, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-for-21 shooting in the win over Tulsa. Felix, who originally planned to attend Duke this season, added 11 points against Arizona.
--Senior PG Jamelle McMillan, who missed three games with a groin injury, returned to contribute five points and three assists in limited time against Arizona.
The Golden Bears won't call it addition by subtraction.
They would have preferred that freshman guard Gary Franklin not bolted the program after 13 games (11 of them starts) and transferred to Baylor.
But in the first four games after his exit, Cal won twice, took Arizona to the wire on the road and saw freshman wing Allen Crabbe blossom at a rate no one could have imagined.
Crabbe scored 17 points in each game in the desert as the Bears split with Arizona and Arizona State. The 6-foot-6 rookie then erupted for a career-high 30 points as Cal (9-8, 2-3 Pac-10) outlasted Washington State 88-81 in overtime.
Crabbe scored 16 points in the Bears' 92-71 loss to Washington, giving him a 20.0 scoring average over the past four games.
He became the first Cal freshman to score 30 points in a game since one-and-done star Shareef Abdur-Rahim did it four times during the 1995-96 season.
"Allen isn't going to (score 30) every night," coach Mike Montgomery said, "but if you don't guard him, he is capable of making shots."
Especially from the perimeter, where he converted 15 of 35 from 3-point range against the Arizona schools and Washington schools.
Even before seeing Crabbe in person for the first time, Washington State coach Ken Bone acknowledged he recognizes some similarities between Crabbe and Cougars star junior Klay Thompson.
But, he added, "He's more aggressive than Klay was when Klay was a freshman. He gets to the free-throw line more, mixes it up and grabs rebounds. He's good already, but he has a chance to be a great one."
He certainly was that against the Cougars.
--Cal ran its winning streak over Washington State to five games, meaning that Klay Thompson still has not beaten the Bears, despite a 36-point outburst on Jan. 16 that gave him a career average of 22.2 points against Cal.
--Former Cal G Gary Franklin, who left the team 13 games into his freshman season, has transferred to Baylor. Franklin averaged 8.2 ppg for Cal, but he was shooting just 29 percent from the field.
--The Bears had a season-high 22 assists on 31 baskets against Washington State.
--Cal allowed a season-high 92 points in its loss to Washington, which shot 13-for-29 from 3-point range.
BY THE NUMBERS: 33 -- The most points scored by a Cal freshman in a single game. Shareef Abdur-Rahim delivered that total in his college debut against Northern Arizona in 1995-96.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Honestly, getting this win was the best thing. I was so excited. We all played together." -- Cal freshman Allen Crabbe, after scoring 30 points against Washington State.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at UCLA, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: The Bears took two of three from UCLA a year ago, but this will be a difficult assignment. UCLA has greater size and depth, making it doubly important that Cal big men Harper Kamp and Markhuri Sanders-Frison stay out of foul trouble. Freshmen Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon are playing their first games back home in Los Angeles, which can either be a motivating factor or a distraction.
--at USC, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Bears are 0-for-4 at the Galen Center and for the second time on this weekend trip will have to overcome playing a taller opponent. The Bears must not allow Nikola Vucevic or Alex Stepheson to take over the game inside. Another big game by Cal freshman Allen Crabbe could provide a boost, but he's likely to face USC defensive specialist Marcus Simmons.
FUTURES MARKET: Sophomore PG Justin Cobbs, a transfer from Minnesota, was lured to Cal by since-departed freshman Gary Franklin. The two have been best friends since childhood, according to Cobbs, who is sitting out this season to fulfill NCAA transfer rules. Ironically, Franklin said he left Cal because he wants to be a full-time point guard, and Cobbs figured to be one more player in his path to that assignment.
--Senior C Markhuri Sanders-Frison, whose plantar fasciitis in both feet hasn't seemed to be as much of an issue recently, had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Washington State, his fifth double-double of the season. He had eight points and five rebounds against Washington.
--Sophomore PG Brandon Smith played perhaps his best game against the Cougars with nine points and a career-best nine assists. But he struggled defensively against Washington and junior PG Isaiah Thomas, who had 27 points and 13 assists.
--Junior F Harper Kamp had 18 points against Washington State, then 20 vs. Washington, giving him 12 double-digit scoring games this season, including six in a row.
The Ducks had to settle for a weekend split, but they got the one that history will remember.
Oregon debuted its new $227 million Matthew Knight Arena with a 68-62 victory over USC in front of a capacity crowd of 12,364 fans who will talk about the night for years.
"This game meant so much to so many people," first-year coach Dana Altman said. "The crowd really got into it the second half, and we gave them something to cheer about."
After spending parts of 84 seasons at McArthur Court, lovingly regarded as "The Pit" by fans in Eugene, Ore., the Ducks moved into their sparkling, high-tech facility.
They dropped to 1-1 in Pac-10 play the new facility after a 67-59 loss to UCLA two days later.
The building is named for the late son of Oregon alum, Nike co-founder and uber-benefactor Phil Knight, who was thrilled by the events of opening night.
"I've got to believe Matt is looking down, pleased ... as my grandmother used to say ... pleased as punch," Knight said. "And I'm sure one of the things that makes him happiest is that so many of his friends and family are here."
It wasn't a masterpiece; this Oregon team may be incapable of executing that. But the Ducks controlled USC's biggest weapons and delivered when it mattered.
"We found a way to win," Altman said. "We made enough plays down the stretch, especially at the defensive end."
--Senior F Joevan Catron, the Ducks' leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, missed both games against the Los Angeles schools due to a strained calf muscle. Coach Dana Altman said he did not consider using Catron. "As badly as I wanted to," Altman said, "I was just scared we could lose him for the rest of the season."
--The Ducks shot a combined 13-for-38 from the 3-point arc against USC and UCLA and remained last in the Pac-10 in 3-point accuracy at 30.6 percent through Jan. 16.
--Oregon had swept the season series vs. both L.A. schools a year ago for the first time since 2001-02.
BY THE NUMBERS: 721 -- Oregon victories at McArthur Court, dating back to 1927.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to make sure we take away easy baskets. There's no other formula for this team. It's not like we're going to wake up tomorrow and be a great scoring team and everybody grow five inches." -- Oregon coach Dana Altman, after the home loss to UCLA.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at Oregon State, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Ducks were swept last year by their rivals, including a 20-point pasting at Gill Coliseum. Oregon must provide its own motivation a week after playing two emotional games at its new Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon State is deeper and more athletic than Oregon, which hopes to have Joevan Catron back from a calf injury and must prevent sophomore G Jared Cunningham from being too disruptive as the back-line defender in Oregon State's aggressive 1-3-1 zone.
FUTURES MARKET: Minnesota senior G Devoe Joseph transferred into Oregon and will be eligible to play next December. Joseph missed seven games due to suspension this season, but Oregon coach Dana Altman checked him out carefully, including a couple discussions with Golden Gophers coach Tubby Smith, who recommended him. "Tubby thought it was a good move for both Devoe and our team," Altman said. "We need some leadership. He's a winner." Joseph averaged 11.2 points and 3.5 assists in eight games this season.
--Sophomore F E.J. Singler totaled 25 points and 11 rebounds in the Ducks' two games against the Los Angeles schools, including 15 vs. UCLA. He had 13 double-digit scoring games this season through Jan. 16.
--Junior PG Malcolm Armstead, who had his streak of 47 consecutive games played snapped in early January by a knee injury, came off the bench to score 11 points in the win over USC. It was his high game since he scored 12 against UC Santa Barbara back on Nov. 14. He added nine points against UCLA.
--Junior F Tyrone Nared had two solid games off the bench, contributing 10 points to the win over USC, then nine vs. UCLA. In six previous games, he had totaled 15 points.
Frustrated with his team's up-and-down play after a 62-57 home loss to UCLA, coach Craig Robinson promised change.
"I can't get these guys to play for 40 minutes," he said, lamenting a poor start. "We looked like we saw the name on the uniform and couldn't move. We just looked like we were paralyzed."
Two nights later, the change was a surprising one. Senior guard Calvin Haynes came out of the starting lineup after a chat with Robinson.
In fact, the Beavers (8-9, 3-3 Pac-10) started just one senior -- Omari Johnson -- but got strong performances from four seniors in an 80-76 win over USC.
Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Joe Burton had two blocked shots in the final minute, and Lathen Wallace contributed 12 points.
No one had a more crucial performance than Haynes, who accepted his redefined role and delivered 11 points and two steals.
"He gave us a huge lift," sophomore guard Jared Cunningham said.
"I couldn't be happier for those seniors. They pulled us through," Robinson said.
Robinson said he reasoned that Haynes could provide a needed boost off the bench. "We just needed to get a freshness, a change," he said. "Calvin has always played well against these guys, and we figured if he could come off the bench and play like that ..."
Robinson hopes there is more where that came from.
--Sophomore G Jared Cunningham, who had scored in double digits nine straight games, was held to five points on 1-for-9 shooting in the loss to UCLA. He bounced back with a career-high 24 points against USC.
--Oregon State has a three-game win streak over USC for the first time since winning six in a row over the Trojans from 1987-90.
--The Beavers had their second-best shooting night of the season (.558) vs. USC.
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Times this season that senior Omari Johnson had led the Beavers in rebounding through Jan. 16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was 'no messing around.' Be prepared." -- Sophomore G Jared Cunningham, on what was said in a pregame gathering among players before the Beavers beat USC.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Oregon, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Beavers would like to maintain their recent dominance in this series, which has provided them three victories in the past four meetings. A key defensively is containing senior F Joevan Catron, Oregon's best player who is expected back after missing both games last weekend with a calf injury. Oregon State will also have to cope with the Ducks' pressure defense, which endeavors to boost the game's tempo.
FUTURES MARKET: Redshirt freshman G Roberto Nelson, whom coach Craig Robinson last year called his best player even though he wasn't cleared to play in a game, got his first start against USC. The Beavers won, so perhaps Robinson keeps this lineup intact, but Nelson had a quiet six-point performance. Two nights earlier, he scored 13 points off the bench in a loss to UCLA.
--Sophomore G Jared Cunningham had six steals against UCLA and two more against USC. That gave him 54 for the season, 15 more than anyone else in the Pac-10 through Jan. 16. Cunningham ranked third nationally with 3.18 steals per game.
--Senior F Omari Johnson scored in double digits seven times in Oregon State's first eight games, then hit a wall. He totaled 29 points in eight games after that before assembling a 12-point, 11-rebound performance in the win over USC.
--Senior G Calvin Haynes, who shot 5-for-5 from the field in the win over USC, had converted just 24 percent of his attempts in three previous games.
Two days after handing Pac-10 leader Washington its first conference defeat, Stanford came back to the pack.
Its 61-58 loss to Washington State was its first home defeat of the season and prevented the Cardinal (10-6, 3-2) from taking a share of the Pac-10 lead.
"We feel we can compete, that's the thing our kids are learning," coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We may have settled too much on outside shots, especially in the second half. We have to be a little more patient."
Patience can be difficult for a team as young as Stanford, with two freshmen in the starting lineup and another quick to come off the bench.
But the Cardinal, picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-10 after losing Landry Fields to the NBA, has been one of the league's biggest surprises.
Stanford is the Pac-10's best defensive team, as the Huskies found out. The Cardinal held the league's most explosive team to a season-low point total in Stanford's 58-56 victory.
"Big ups to Stanford," Washington guard Isaiah Thomas said. "They played a good game."
The Cardinal has played more good games than most expected, but such performances are not a given.
--Stanford showed off its football Orange Bowl trophy at halftime of the Washington State game, and quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Shayne Skov spoke to the Maples Pavilion crowd.
--Only six of Stanford's first 16 opponents scored more than 61 points. The Cardinal had limited five teams to fewer than 50 points.
--Junior G Jeremy Green is that rare player who was shooting a higher percentage from 3-point range (.413) than inside the arc (.376) through Jan. 16.
BY THE NUMBERS: 59.7 -- Points per game Stanford was allowing, tied for 22nd best in the nation through Jan. 16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I felt going into this season they would be really good. I think they've gotten better. They're going to be a real hard out for anybody. I think they have a good balance of experience with a very talented group of newcomers. Also they have balance between their backcourt and frontcourt. They're capable of beating anybody." -- Washington State coach Ken Bone, on the Cardinal.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--at USC, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: This series has been very competitive over the past five seasons, with each team winning at least once each year. But the Cardinal has yet to win in four tries at the Galen Center. To do so here will require a big effort from Josh Owens and freshman Dwight Powell against USC's frontline 1-2 punch of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson.
--at UCLA, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cardinal has dropped five straight at Pauley Pavilion and will have to find a way to defuse the Bruins' productive frontcourt trio of Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson and 305-pound freshman C Joshua Smith. Stanford junior G Jeremy Green was very good against the Bruins last season, totaling 48 points in two games, including 30 in the Cardinal's home victory.
FUTURES MARKET: Junior G Jeremy Green, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the Pac-10, was just five points shy of 1,000 career points through Jan. 16. But Green, who had 12 points in each game vs. the Washington schools, had a rough week shooting the ball. He was 9-for-28 in the two games, including 5-for-16 from 3-point range.
--Junior F Josh Owens, who missed all of last season with an undisclosed medical condition, has come back with a fury. He had 14 points, including the game-winning tip with 29 seconds left, in Stanford's win over Washington, then contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Washington State. Owens shot 12-for-16 from the field in the two games.
--Freshman F Dwight Powell had two solid games last week, with 11 points and seven rebounds vs. Washington, then nine points and 10 rebounds vs. Washington State.
--Junior G Jarrett Mann, whose spot in the starting lineup is the result of his stout defensive work, had one of his best offensive games of the season in the win over Washington. He scored nine points, and he made five of six shots from the free-throw line, where he had struggled all season.
When you are 6-foot-10, 305 pounds, it's impossible to go unnoticed.
The last thing UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith needed was a public reprimand from the Pac-10 Conference.
But that's how his week began as the Bruins headed north to play a road set in Oregon.
Leave it to his parents to provide a calming influence.
With mom and dad watching in Corvallis, Ore., Smith made four free throws in the final 2 1/2 minutes to help the Bruins (11-6, 3-2 Pac-10) post a 62-57 win over Oregon State hours after he was called out by the league for critical remarks he made about officiating earlier in the week.
Smith had converted just five of 14 free throws over his 11 previous games. But he had no doubt as he went to the line late against the Beavers.
"I felt calm," Smith said. "I went up there and just did my regular routine."
Smith's parents made the 4 1/2-hour drive from the Seattle area to watch their son play for the first time with UCLA.
"It's always good to have your mom and dad sitting behind the bench," said Smith, who had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Smith needed a lift after being reprimanded for, among things, saying that "the refs were terrible" in UCLA's loss to USC.
Coach Ben Howland later said Smith used "totally poor judgment" in making the comments, and Smith also issued an apology. But Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said, "In these circumstances, conference rules require a public reprimand."
"They said if I said something like that again, I could be suspended," Smith said, "so I'm done with that."
--The Bruins have won 12 consecutive games against Oregon State, the previous 11 by an average of 22 points before they won by five on Jan. 13 in Corvallis. UCLA has won seven straight at Gill Coliseum.
--The Bruins turned the ball over 21 times against Oregon State, then had 18 more giveaways vs. Oregon.
--UCLA is beginning to play the kind of defense coach Ben Howland wants. By limiting Oregon State to 57 points and Oregon to 59, the Bruins held consecutive opponents under 60 points for the first time since Louisiana Tech (55) on Dec. 28, 2008, and Oregon State (46) on Jan. 2, 2009.
BY THE NUMBERS: 44 -- Games sophomore F Reeves Nelson had played before fouling out and going scoreless for the first time in his career against Oregon.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was phenomenal, the way he stepped up and knocked down four huge free throws." -- UCLA coach Ben Howland, on freshman C Joshua Smith, a 56 percent foul shooter who made four in a row late against Oregon State game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Cal, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: UCLA will try to exert its advantage inside against the shorter Bears but also will need to keep a close eye on Cal freshman Allen Crabbe, who scored 30 points last week against Washington State and seems to be finding his rhythm. Crabbe is an L.A. kid making his first trip home, so he will be plenty motivated to deliver a big game.
--vs. Stanford, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Bruins have dominated the Cardinal recently at Pauley Pavilion, winning five straight. But Stanford has good size to potentially match up well in the frontcourt, and UCLA must deal more effectively with SG Jeremy Green, who scored 48 points in the two matchups last season. Green had 30 in Stanford's home victory over the Bruins.
FUTURES MARKET: Junior PG Jerime Anderson, who lost his starting job when the Bruins brought in JC transfer Lazeric Jones, came off the bench to help against Oregon's pressure defense and delivered 15 points and three assists. He shot 3-for-5 from 3-point range and 4-for-4 from the foul line. Anderson was averaging 9.3 points over the past three games through Jan. 16 after scoring at just a 3.6 ppg clip to that point.
--Sophomore F Reeves Nelson had 13 points and seven rebounds in the win over Oregon State, his eighth double-digit scoring game in his past nine outings. Then he played just 15 minutes at Oregon, going scoreless with four turnovers and five fouls.
--Freshman C Joshua Smith followed his 10-point, nine-rebound effort at Oregon State with 15 points and nine rebounds at Oregon.
--Sophomore F Tyler Honeycutt equaled his season low with eight points in the win at Oregon State, then scored just seven on 3-for-10 shooting at Oregon. He did have 11 rebounds against the Ducks.
--Junior G Malcolm Lee, after two games in which he totaled 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting, scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds to help spark the win over Oregon.
It's considered the least daunting road trip in the Pac-10 this season.
But USC (10-8, 2-3 Pac-10) is happy it won't have to return to the state of Oregon until next year.
The Trojans went 0-for-Oregon, losing 62-57 to the Ducks in the inaugural game at the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena, then 80-76 at Oregon State.
That's six straight losses by the Trojans to the Ducks and Beavers, including 0-for-4 a year ago.
"Both games up here, we weren't quite right defensively," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said.
"We weren't playing to our identity the last couple of games, unfortunately for us. Our formula for winning is defending and rebounding and taking good shots and not turning the ball over. And we didn't defend or rebound."
Certainly the Trojans were off their defensive game against the Beavers, who shot 56 percent.
"We have to stop people to win games, and we didn't do that," junior forward Nikola Vucevic said.
When the Beavers didn't make a basket, they drew a foul. Oregon State generated 39 free throws, including 29 in the second half. The Beavers scored 27 points when the clock was stopped.
Two nights earlier, USC was up against a frenzied atmosphere as Oregon packed its new building. And it was loud.
"Crowd noise had nothing to do with it," O'Neill said. "If it did, we are in the wrong sport and the wrong league."
--USC had a stretch of eight consecutive games in which it limited its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting, but then it allowed offensively challenged Oregon to convert 43 percent and Oregon State 56 percent.
--Senior G Donte Smith continues to be the Trojans' best, and almost only, contributor off the bench. He had had his eighth double-digit scoring game of the season against Oregon with 13 points, then scored eight vs. Oregon State.
--USC entered the Oregon State game allowing just 62.3 points per game, second best in the Pac-10. The 80 points the Trojans allowed the Beavers were exceeded only by the 81 scored by TCU in Nov. 29.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 -- Conference-leading total of double-doubles this season by junior F Nikola Vucevic through Jan. 16. He had 21 for his career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm sure it's going to be beautiful. I'm sure it will be wild. I'm not so worried about the arena. I'm worried about the team. We've got to play the guys in the short pants, not worry about the people in the stands." -- USC coach Kevin O'Neill's pregame analysis of facing Oregon at the new Matthew Knight Arena. The Trojans lost the Jan. 13 game.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Stanford, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: USC is 4-0 all-time at the new Galen Center against Stanford, but the Cardinal is playing with great confidence after beating Washington last week. The Trojans will try to use their muscle inside to neutralize the 1-2 punch of Josh Owens and Dwight Powell, neither of whom played last season. Owens missed the year with an undisclosed medical condition, and Powell was in prep school. Junior SG Jeremy Green has great shooting range.
--vs. Cal, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Trojans are unbeaten against Cal in four tries at the Galen Center, although this is almost an entirely new Cal team. The Bears don't have size that matches USC well, but they are playing more efficiently on offense, with freshman Allen Crabbe coming off a 30-point performance in a win over Washington State last weekend.
FUTURES MARKET: USC coach Kevin O'Neill said he has no problems with the Pac-10's more flexible scheduling model, including games on Sunday nights. The expectation is teams will be asked to play on a range of nights in the future after the Pac-10 generates a new media contract. "We've got to do whatever is in the best interest of TV exposure," O'Neill said. "I don't think we can worry about typical Thursday-Saturday. We have to be willing, because we're on the West Coast, to do things. The Sunday night game for me is a great thing."
--Junior F Nikola Vucevic had 11 points and 13 rebounds at Oregon, then a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds vs. Oregon State.
--It was a quiet weekend for senior F Alex Stepheson, who had nine points and eight rebounds vs. Oregon, six points and five rebounds at Oregon State.
--Sophomore PG Jio Fontan scored nine points against Oregon, then had 14 points and six assists vs. Oregon State.
As much as anyone, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar wondered how his team would respond to a couple obstacles in its path.
"Adversity, it's always interesting how people handle it," he said before the Huskies visited the Bay Area. "Always interesting. So we will see."
The Huskies (13-4, 5-1) returned home still in first place in the Pac-10, but it was a challenging weekend. They lost 58-56 at Stanford, then regrouped three days later and roared to a 92-71 victory at Cal.
All of it came against a complicated backdrop that included losing point guard Abdul Gaddy to knee surgery, but also a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl by an unnamed Washington player.
Junior point guard Isaiah Thomas was the difference-maker at Cal, where the Huskies demonstrated they had shaken off the hangover of the Stanford loss.
He had 18 points and six assists by halftime and wound up with a season-high 27 points and career-best 13 assists in what Romar called his best performance as a Husky.
"He was the band conductor orchestrating that game," Romar said.
"Isaiah Thomas pretty much had his way," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said.
Romar moved senior Venoy Overton to the bench against Cal, explaining he wanted different matchups. The offshoot was that Thomas was forced to become the centerpiece of Washington's attack.
He had a direct hand in 57 points against Cal, including his baskets and assists.
"He was really good," Romar said. "He's been playing like this since we started conference games."
Thomas couldn't be entirely satisfied with the weekend.
"We should really be undefeated. Big ups to Stanford," he said after the loss at Maples Pavilion. "They played a good game."
--Washington has not swept Cal and Stanford on the same weekend in the Bay Area since the 1984-85 season.
--The Huskies shot 13-for-29 from 3-point range against Cal, getting at least one 3-pointer from seven different players.
--The 56 points scored at Stanford were Washington's fewest in a game this season. The Huskies have topped 100 five times.
--Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning by themselves outscored Cal 72-71.
BY THE NUMBERS: 64 -- Washington's scoring average in its four defeats this season through Jan. 16. The Huskies were averaging 94.2 points in their victories.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "For us, Maples Pavilion has been a little like a long time ago the Boston Garden was for the Lakers, where they said the leprechaun was knocking balls off the rim and stuff like that. We've had some strange things happen to us at Stanford and have come up short many times." -- Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, whose Huskies have dropped 16 of their past 18 games on Stanford's home floor.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Arizona, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: First place will be on the line here, and the Huskies hope to extend their home winning to four games over Arizona. Job One against the Wildcats is containing sophomore PF Derrick Williams, an efficient scorer who has added 3-point range to his repertoire. Arizona is one of the few teams in the Pac-10 with the depth to hang with Washington, and the Wildcats are comfortable playing at the fast tempo the Huskies like to generate.
--vs. Arizona State, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: This figures to be a much different game than the matchup vs. Arizona. The Sun Devils prefer a slower pace, which they try to create both with their deliberate offense and their matchup zone defense. Washington will have to stay close to senior SG Ty Abbott, a streaky shooter whose 3-point capabilities can change a game quickly. If Washington gets the pace going and the crowd involved, Arizona State could be in trouble.
FUTURES MARKET: Redshirt freshman G C.J. Wilcox was the Huskies' top scoring threat off the bench for the season's first nine games, averaging 10.0 points and shooting 56.8 percent from 3-point range. But he missed the Dec. 29 game vs. USC due to a staph infection in his hip and has not been the same player. He has averaged 2.2 points in his past five games, and he is 1-for-10 from 3-point range during that stretch.
--Senior F Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who averaged 18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in his previous five games, had just eight points and seven rebounds in the loss at Stanford. He bounced back with a 22-point, 11-rebound effort at Cal, his sixth double-double of the season.
--Senior wing Justin Holiday made five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 23 points at Cal.
--Senior G Venoy Overton, starting in place of injured sophomore Abdul Gaddy, shot just 1-for-5 and had two points at Stanford. He scored three points in 14 minutes off the bench at Cal.
It was a strange weekend in the Bay Area for the Cougars.
More of Klay Thompson was less for Washington State, and less of Reggie Moore was more.
Or something like that.
Here's what happened: The Cougars visited Cal at full strength and lost 88-81 in overtime despite getting a season-high 36 points from Klay Thompson.
Two days later, Thompson scored a more modest 21 points, and the Cougars played without suspended point guard Moore, but they still beat Stanford 61-58.
Moving forward, Washington State (13-5, 3-3 Pac-10) knows what it will get from Thompson, the league's leading scorer whose ability to generate points from the perimeter sometimes seems ridiculously easy.
Where things stand with Moore is less certain. Coach Ken Bone suspended him in the hours before the Stanford game after re-examining details of two misdemeanor marijuana-related charges filed recently against the sophomore floor leader.
Bone said he would look at the suspension again this week, presumably before the Jan. 20 home game vs. Arizona State.
Junior college transfer Faisal Aden, Washington State's No. 2 scorer all season, returned to the starting lineup in place of Moore against Stanford, and he complemented Thompson with a 20-point performance.
"I'm really pleased we as a team held our composure on the road in a tight game," Bone said. "We looked like a veteran team. To me, that was the greatest thing about this win."
That balance and composure was missing against Cal, where Thompson was spectacular but his teammates looked as if they were standing around and watching him at times.
In the overtime, Cal went to a box-and-one against Thompson and threw the Cougars completely out of rhythm. Thompson didn't get another shot off, and the Bears led wire-to-wire in the extra period.
--Washington State beat Stanford at Maples Pavilion for the first time since 2005.
--The Cougars entered last week ranked second in the Pac-10 in 3-point field goal defense at .286, then allowed Cal to convert five of 11, four of them by freshman Allen Crabbe, who scored a career-high 30 points.
--With junior G Faisal Aden back in the starting lineup, the Cougars got just five points in 31 minutes from their bench at Stanford.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Klay Thompson's rank on Washington State's career scoring list. The junior guard had 1,436 points through Jan. 16.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes you just have to step up. Fortunately I was able to do so today." -- Junior F Abe Lodwick, who scored just two points at Stanford, but they were the final two of the game, a pair of free throws with 5.9 seconds left that clinched the victory.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Arizona State, Jan. 20
KEY MATCHUPS: Dealing with Arizona State involves coping with their tricky matchup zone defense, and the Sun Devils are healthier now with the return of senior PG Jamelle McMillan, without whom the team was swept at home by the Bay Area schools. Arizona State won both matchups last year, despite Klay Thompson totaling 39 points in the two games. Arizona State's Ty Abbott, a streaky shooter, had 35 in the two games.
--vs. Arizona, Jan. 22
KEY MATCHUPS: The Cougars did a decent job last season on Arizona star PF Derrick Williams, limiting him to just four shots and 13 points at Tucson, then 16 points at Friel Court. But containing Williams remains the key to stopping the Wildcats. He is a sophomore now and has added to his game, including an efficient 3-point stroke. Washington State has won three straight in this series, its longest streak since 1983-84.
FUTURES MARKET: Coach Ken Bone moved junior G Faisal Aden back into the starting lineup against Stanford, and Aden responded with a 20-point performance that included 3-for-4 shooting from the 3-point arc. It was his sixth 20-point effort of the season, but his first since Dec. 22. With more shots (19), Aden had a better chance to develop a rhythm than he did two nights earlier at Cal, when he was shot just seven times and scored six points. But without him available to come off the bench, the Cougars are far less potent when Bone goes to his reserves.
--Junior G Klay Thompson's 36 points against Cal were the most by a Pac-10 player this season. He hit a 26-foot 3-pointer to force overtime, one of seven 3-pointers he made on the Bay Area trip. His 22.9 scoring average was eighth best in the nation as of Jan. 16.
--Junior F DeAngelo Casto had a 7-Eleven weekend in the Bay Area. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds against Cal, then seven points and seven rebounds at Stanford.
--Freshman F Patrick Simon, who had made just two of his previous 13 shots from 3-point range, was 2-for-3 from deep against Cal and scored eight points.
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