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Pac-10 Notebook

January 14, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Pac-10 Conference Notebook

by Scott Allen

A Stanford-Arizona duel in the desert highlighted last weekend’s Pac-10 action, as UCLA remained hot and Washington continued its skid. Arizona State’s winless in conference play as well, while Washington State’s turnaround continues. Cal, USC and Oregon remain painfully mediocre and Oregon State has hopes for big things after a Civil War victory.

Deja-‘Do

Arizona State fans sure hope Stanford’s Josh Childress decides to go pro after this season. One year after giving Stanford a 58-57 win in Tempe with a put-back in the final minute, the ‘Fro-sporting Childress turned a similar trick last Thursday. The junior All-America candidate snuck into the lane and tipped in a Justin Davis miss with 9.4 seconds remaining to give Stanford a 63-62 win.

Howland adjusting to left coast just fine

First year UCLA head coach Ben Howland has the Bruins off on the right foot in conference play, tied with Stanford atop the Pac-10 standings with a 4-0 mark. After a slow start, UCLA has quietly established itself as the third best team in the Pac-10 and the most likely squad at this point (besides Stanford and Arizona) to earn an at-large bid to the Big Dance.

Player of the Week:

Josh Childress, F, Stanford

Game-winning tip-in against Arizona State and 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in win at Arizona leaves no doubt he’s worthy of this honor.

Around the Pac-10

Arizona (10-2, 2-1)

The Wildcats made quick work of a short-handed Cal squad on Thursday, jumping out to a 50-22 halftime lead en route to a second-straight dominating victory (95-75) to open the conference season. Hassan Adams led all scorers with 19 points and added nine rebounds, while Salim Stoudamire remained hot with 18 points, including four treys. Ivan Radenovich matched his brief career-high with 17 points in reserve. Cal was playing without its freshman superstar, Leon Powe.

Two days later, Arizona got rocked on its own court by red-hot Stanford, 82-72, the Cardinal’s fourth consecutive victory at the McKale Center. Adams and Co. struggled offensively from the get go, to the tune of 19 percent shooting and a 33-20 deficit at halftime. By the time freshman point guard Mustafa Shakur led a minor run to make the final score respectable, the outcome of the game had long been decided. Check out my < href=" http://hoopville.com/authors/3?EntryID=6465">column for more in-depth analysis.

Up Next: Thursday at USC, Saturday at UCLA

Arizona State (6-6, 0-3)

The Sun Devils had then-No. 4 Stanford on the ropes in Tempe last Thursday but free throw woes in the final minute and a put-back by Josh Childress with nine seconds ultimately allowed the Cardinal to escape with a 63-62 win. Jason Braxton, who had missed the front end of a one-and-one with 21 seconds to play to set up Childress’ bucket, had a chance to win it for Arizona State but clanged a shot of the side of the rim just before the buzzer. The Sun Devils rallied from a 14-point second half deficit and took a 62-59 lead on Jamal Hill’s three-pointer with just over two minutes to play. Diogu finished with just 13 points, but added six rebounds and six assists. Steve Moore scored a team-high 16 points in defeat.

Diogu bounced back from his sub-par scoring performance against Stanford with 31 points against Cal on Saturday – the 44th straight time the sophomore has reached double figures – but Ike was the only Sun Devil to do much of anything in a disappointing 74-62 loss. Diogu shot 15-for-17 from the line and pulled down 13 rebounds, but Moore was the only other Arizona State player to finish in double figures (10 points). Cal took a 42-26 lead into halftime and never looked back, as the Sun Devils were mired in a 2-for-20 shooting drought spanning the halftime break.

Up Next: Thursday at UCLA, Saturday at USC

California (6-7, 2-2)

Four days removed from a 55-50 loss at home to Washington State, the Bears headed into a matchup with Arizona without the services of freshman sensation Leon “Mr. Double-Double” Powe. Ben Braun and his boys might as well have bypassed Tucson and flown straight to Tempe. A 20-3 Arizona run at the end of the half put the Bears in a 50-22 hole, from which they would go on to lose for the 13th time in 14 meetings with the ‘Cats, 95-75. Freshman Marquise Kately had an impressive game in defeat, finishing with 18 points, although 15 came in the second half. Amit Tamir had just five points on 2-for-8 shooting and Cal committed 22 turnovers.

While the Bears could have hibernated for the rest of the road trip and headed back to Berkeley with a 1-3 start to conference play, the return of Powe (16 points) and second straight un-freshman-like performance from Kately (17 points, 6 rebounds) led to a 74-62 win over Arizona State. The win is one Cal might look back on at the end of the season as the game that saved their year. A 1-3 start to conference play with No. 2 Stanford on deck would’ve made things pretty bleak in the East Bay.

Up Next: Saturday at No. 2 Stanford

No. 2 Stanford (13-0, 4-0)

After breezing by the Washington schools at home to open their conference slate, the Cardinal nearly suffered a let down in its first true road test of the season. Stanford let a 14-point second half lead slip away and trailed by one late before a Josh Childress tip-in off a Justin Davis miss with nine seconds left gave Stanford a stunning 63-62 win. The Pac-10 Player of the Week finished with 14 points and 11 boards. Davis and fellow frontcourt force Rob Little limited the Sun Devils’ Ike Diogu to 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting, while senior guard Matt Lottich provided just enough offensive firepower for the Cardinal with 18 points.

Thursday’s wakeup call in Tempe served Mike Montgomery’s squad rather well on Sunday, as it dominated Arizona from start to finish, 82-72, in a game that cleared up any question of which team is the top dog in a conference of primarily puppies – at least at this point in the season. Childress had his best game since coming back from a stress reaction that caused him to miss the first nine games of the season, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a season-high 30 minutes off the bench. Lottich added 17 and Davis contributed his third double-double of the season (10 points, 10 rebounds).

Up Next: Saturday vs. California

Oregon (6-4, 1-2)

A 12-0 Oregon State run in the final two minutes erased the Ducks’ late lead and helped the Beavers snap a nine-game losing streak to their in-state rivals with a 90-81 victory in Corvallis. Ernie Kent’s squad, which turned the ball over 17 times to the Beavers’ seven, wasted a career-night from forward Luke Jackson. Oregon’s senior leader scored 39 points on 11-for-21 shooting, including 14-for-14 from the line, and also added 16 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

The Ducks erased an early 12-2 deficit with a 12-2 run of their own and trailed by just one at halftime before leading for most of the second half and by as many as seven with just over eight minutes to go before the Beavers’ decisive run. James Davis hit five three-pointers and tallied 17 points in defeat, while Ian Crosswhite connected on all four of his field goal attempts and finished with 12 points.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Washington, Saturday vs. Washington State

Oregon State (7-6, 1-2)

Saturday’s 90-81 win over Oregon in the basketball version of the Civil War – the Beavers’ first in the series since 1999 – gives reason for the fans in Corvallis to be excited about the rest of the season. Junior David Lucas led four Beavers in double-figures with 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting, as Chris Stephens and J.S. Nash added 17 points apiece. Oregon State shot at a 47 percent clip and won the rebounding battle 36-33 in their most impressive victory of the season to date.

A 7-2 start to the season last year quickly went sour with five straight losses to open conference play for coach Jay John. With wins over the Washington schools this week, the Beavers have a chance to get above .500 in conference play, a place they haven’t been in the past two years.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Washington State, Saturday vs. Washington

UCLA (8-3, 4-0)

It wasn’t pretty, but UCLA’s 48-45 victory over Washington State isn’t worth any less in the standings as a result. T.J. Cummings scored a team-high 12 points and Dijon Thompson added 11, including two crucial free throws in the final minutes, as the Bruins held the Cougars to 37.5 percent shooting. UCLA has not lost to Washington State since 1993.

The Bruins played to a more standard final score against Washington, working overtime for a hard-fought 86-84 win. Cummings had a dominating game with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Trevor Ariza added 21 points – five in the extra period – and eight boards. Ben Howland’s squad led by 13 with 3:14 to play before getting sloppy with the ball and ultimately allowing the Huskies to take a 75-74 lead with 45 seconds to play. Ariza had two chances to win it for UCLA in regulation, but he made only one of two free throws with 38 seconds to play to tie the score and missed a shot at the buzzer. Two free throws by Thompson with 11 seconds to play in overtime were the difference in the game. UCLA overcame 24 turnovers by shooting 51.5 percent from the field.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Arizona State, Saturday vs. Arizona

USC (7-6, 2-2)

The Trojans kicked off their annual trip to Washington promisingly enough, with an 88-80 win over current Pac-10 doormat UW in Seattle. Errick Craven had 20 points to lead USC and Desmon Farmer chipped in 13 points and 10 boards. Henry Bibby’s squad continues to lead the conference in steals, as the Trojans picked a season-high 17 pockets against the Huskies, led by freshman Lodrick Stewart’s six.

The Men of Troy were denied a weekend sweep, and perhaps a chance to jumpstart their season, as they fell 76-61 Saturday in Pullman. Farmer led the team with 22 points and Errick Craven added 12, but the porous USC defense allowed Washington State to score nearly 20 points above its season average.

Washington (5-7, 0-4)

You’re not going to win a lot of games when you turn the ball over 29 times, so it’s no surprise Washington was on the losing end of an 88-80 final score when they did just that last Thursday. Will Conroy had 21 points in defeat and Bobby Jones added 14. Washington outrebounded USC 45-38, but trailed 40-26 at the half at home.

The Huskies dropped to 0-4 in the conference for the second time in three years, as they wasted a 29-point performance from Conroy in an 86-84 overtime loss to UCLA two days later. Conroy also added seven rebounds and five assists, in what head coach Lorenzo Romar called the best game of his junior guard’s career. Nate Robinson tallied 18 points for the Huskies, including seven in the final three minutes, as Washington erased a 13-point deficit to force overtime.

Up Next: Thursday at Oregon, Saturday at Oregon State

Washington State (8-6, 2-2)

While it’s still early in the season, there’s no denying the fabulous job Dick Bennett has already done to turn this Cougars squad around. If not for Gonzaga, this defensive-minded team (giving up 56.6 points per game) would lay claim to the top team in the Evergreen State. A split with the L.A. schools last weekend, in what easily could have been a sweep, has fans in Pullman excited about a little more than the arrival of spring this winter. The Cougars played UCLA close throughout on Thursday in a defensive struggle before succumbing 48-45. Washington State shot just 37.5 percent from the field, led by Marcus Moore’s 13 points.

The Cougars rebounded with one of their best offensive performances of the season, shooting 58 percent from the field in a 76-61 victory over USC two days later. Junior forward Jeff Varem had a career-game, scoring 22 points to lead four Cougars in double figures. Varem, Thomas Kelati, Moore and Chris Schlatter all played at least 37 minutes, as Washington State outscored the Trojans 39-21 in the second half. Washington State has already matched last season’s conference victory total.

Up Next: Thursday at Oregon State, Saturday at Oregon

     

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