Cougs' big W sparks national intrigue

THE COUGARS' BIG win at UCLA on Saturday has sparked a fire of national intrigue around Tony Bennett's troops and their post-season possibilities. Andy Katz at flames the notion the Pac-10 tourney could be colored crimson. Luke Winn at stokes the idea of a regular-season flourish leading to a Selection Sunday smile, and the Los Angeles Times is just plain hot for Taylor Rochestie.

Winn calls the Cougars a long shot for March Madness but contends that the weak collection of mid-major teams this season will create at-large openings for major-conference stragglers.

"Their overall record is ugly, and they don't have a quality non-league win, but they've also beaten Arizona State on the road, and if they were to sweep the Arizona schools this weekend in Pullman plus knock off Washington in Seattle, they could go from long shot to lock," Winn writes of the Cougars in his blog.

Katz dismisses the possibility of the Cougars earning an at-large bid, but in his weekend column he spreads the Gospel According to Tony.

"… The Cougars now believe they have as much a shot as anyone to win the Pac-10 tournament in Los Angeles," he writes and then quotes Bennett, who says, "We were fighting for our lives and now we've got a big win, with senior weekend upcoming against the Arizona schools. Nobody has been dominant in our league to walk away with it. So you can't call this one yet."

Meanwhile, down in Los Angeles, the brilliance of Rochestie and his 33-point outpouring against the Bruins is still being talked about. In today's editions, veteran Times columnist Bill Dwyre asks – and answers – a simple question: Who is this kid who scored more points against UCLA than anyone this season (as well as more than any opposing player at Pauley Pavilion in six years)?

Here's the link to Dwyre's story: Rochestie the man who left UCLA defenseless.


• Each of the Cougars' last three regular-season games will be televised by FSN: Arizona at 6 pm on Thursday; Arizona State at 2 pm on Saturday; and Washington at 2:30 pm next Saturday.

• Rochestie has been named Pac-10 Player of the Week.

• Statistically speaking: The Cougs lead the Pac-10 in free throw shooting (77 percent) but are ninth in field goal accuracy (44 percent) and eighth in three-point accuracy (35 percent). Fueled by DeAngelo Casto (35) and Aron Baynes (32), the Cougars are second in the conference in blocked shots behind USC.

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