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Pac-10 Notebook

February 19, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Pac-10 Conference Notebook

by Scott Allen

Several teams in the Pac-10 worked overtime last weekend making for two days worth of exciting basketball. The results, however, did little to clear up the conference picture with the Pac-10 tournament on the horizon and Selection Sunday shortly thereafter. Here’s a look back at the weekend’s six best games, including a cross-Bay showdown in Berkeley, followed by previews of this weekend’s action.

Six-Pac:

1. No Kidding, Stanford still perfect

Tiger Woods and his fiancee were absent. There was no buzzer-beater, no national audience and no jubilant celebration on the court. Still, Saturday night’s showdown between No. 1 Stanford and rival California at Haas Pavilion was the premier conference game of the week given what was at stake. The 69-58 win gave Stanford (21-0, 12-0) its 21st consecutive win to start the season, breaking the old school record of 20 set back in 1999-00. The loss left the Bears (11-10, 7-5) knowing they had wasted a golden opportunity to move closer to cementing a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Jason Kidd fired up the Cal student section with a speech after his No. 5 jersey was lifted to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony and Amit Tamir gave Cal an early 2-0 lead with a turnaround jumper in the opening minute before Stanford’s Rob Little took over. The junior center scored 10 of Stanford’s first 15 points, profiting from the absence of Cal freshman Leon Powe, who was forced to sit for all but eight minutes of the first half after committing two quick fouls. With Powe on the bench, Stanford led until Tamir scored over Nick Robinson to give Cal a 30-29 lead 1:49 before halftime.

The Bears stretched the lead to six with 20.9 seconds to go in the half after Richard Midgley fed Marquise Kately for a dunk off a Stanford turnover. Momentum swung on the next possession, as Stanford held for the last shot of the half. Chris Hernandez dished inside to Little, who hit the basket and was fouled. Little missed the free throw but Josh Childress, who scored 15 points, skied in the lane for one of his nine rebounds and was fouled with .3 seconds on the clock. With Stanford in the double bonus, Childress hit both free throws and Cal headed to the locker room up just two.

Trailing for just the fourth time this season at the half, Stanford regained the lead shortly after the break and led by seven at the 10-minute mark. Cal, which shot just 21.7 percent from the field in the second half, would get no closer than five points the rest of the game. Robinson’s wide-open jumper left of the lane after a nice head fake put Stanford up 64-53 and after Cal missed three 3-pointers on the ensuing possession, the game was essentially out of reach.

Powe was held to seven points, all of which came from the free throw line, and just two rebounds. Kately led the Bears with 16 points and Tamir added 14. Little led all Cardinal scorers with 16 points. Stanford shot just 2-for-9 from the line but Cal didn’t fare much better (4-for-17). Joe Kirchoffer, who played a large part in shutting down Powe before fouling out, showcased a jump hook added seven points on the offensive end for Stanford.

2. Ducks avoid sweep, dump Cougars in OT

Two days after blowing a 13-point second half lead and committing 26 turnovers in an 83-74 loss at Washington, Oregon was dangerously close to a repeat performance in Pullman. This time, the second-half lead was 18, but the Ducks hit seven of eight free throws in overtime to secure the 67-62 win. Luke Jackson was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line, which made up for his 3-for-8 performance from the field. The Ducks were held to just 3-for-15 shooting from long range. Washington State dug itself a hole by shooting just 17 percent in the first half, as leading scorer Marcus Moore was held scoreless.

3. Farmer rescues Trojans in Tempe

Desmon Farmer scored 10 of his 25 points in overtime, as USC downed Arizona State 93-84 last Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils erased a 13-point second half deficit but played the extra session without the services of sophomore Ike Diogu, who fouled out with 3:44 to play. USC knocked down 12 of its 14 free throw attempts in overtime to seal the win. Jeff McMillan and Gregg Guenther Jr. recorded double-doubles for USC while Kevin Kruger complemented Diogu’s scoring with a career-high 16 points for Arizona State. Kruger missed a crucial free throw in the final minute of regulation, however. The Trojans’ Errick Craven, who had a career-high 26 points, fouled out one minute into overtime, but Farmer’s heroics were enough for USC to avoid the Arizona sweep. The Trojans were blown out by Arizona two days earlier at the McKale Center.

4. Huskies hold home court

The Huskies, winners of six of seven heading into Saturday’s game at home, got more than they bargained for against pesky Oregon State. Despite allowing a 13-point second half lead to slip away, Washington escaped with an 80-79 victory. The decisive points came on Nate Robinson’s three-point play with 1:22 to play. Robinson finished with 12 points. Oregon State, which used a 15-0 run late in the second half to take a four-point lead, outrebounded the Huskies 40-29 and connected on seven 3-pointers. David Lucas paced the Beavers with a career-high 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting. Tre Simmons led Washington with 17. Washington’s seven conference wins are the most since the Huskies had 10 in 1999.

5. Sun Devils stop skid against UCLA

Behind 27 points and 13 rebounds from Diogu, the Sun Devils snapped a six-game losing streak with a 74-62 overtime victory at home. Arizona State trailed by 14 with 12:35 to play and by six with 36 seconds left. Three-pointers by Kevin Kruger and Jamal Hill drilled consecutive 3-pointers to force overtime, where UCLA went ice cold. The Bruins shot 0-for-11 in the extra period and their efforts to stage a comeback by sending Arizona State to the line proved futile. The Sun Devils were a perfect 12-for-12 from the line in overtime and 19-for-20 for the game.

6. Bruins shoot the lights out, but lose

UCLA shot 66 percent from the field but lost 107-83 to Arizona in Tucson. Salim Stoudamire scored a career-high 34 points for the Wildcats, which scored 50 points off 28 UCLA turnovers. Andre Iguodala tallied his third triple-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He and Stoudamire were two of six Wildcats to finish in double figures. Sophomore Chris Rodgers, making his third start of the season, scored 16, Channing Frye added 15 and Hassan Adams scored 14 off the bench. Arizona shot 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range (13-for-26) and knocked down 18-of-22 free throws in topping the century mark for the fourth time this season. Dijon Thompson scored 20 for UCLA in defeat and T.J. Cummings added 17 on 7-for-8 shooting.

Looking Ahead:

With just three weeks remaining in the regular season and the jumble in the middle of the conference standings, nearly every game the rest of the way carries some importance. Here’s a profile of Thursday’s contests. Check back for a preview of Saturday’s games in a couple days.

Thursday, Feb. 19, 2004

Arizona (16-6, 8-5) at Oregon (12-7, 7-5)

The ‘Cats head to McArthur Court, where they are 1-3 the past four years, to kick off their final road trip of the season. The game has ramifications for both schools as Arizona has just a half-game lead over Oregon and Cal for second place in the conference standings. The game is essentially a must-win for the Ducks in terms of tournament hopes after splitting on the road last week. Arizona, led recently by the hot hand of Salim Stoudamire (80 points in his last three games), is coming off two dominating wins against UCLA and USC at home. The Ducks have the three-point weapons to hang with Arizona’s up-tempo style and this game figures to be one of the best Pac-10 games this weekend.

Arizona State (9-13, 3-10) at Oregon State (9-13, 3-9)

The cellar dwellers of the Pac-10 square off in Corvallis, where Ike Diogu and the Sun Devils look to make it two straight. The Beavers are coming off a tough overtime loss at Washington, where David Lucas scored a career-high 29 points. Both teams are fighting for at least a trip to Los Angeles for the Pac-10 tournament at Staples Center, where they’ll have the pleasure of playing spoiler to the odds-on-favorite to win the conference regular season title, Stanford.

California (11-10, 7-5) at UCLA (10-11, 6-7)

The Bears tournament hopes are still alive but they desperately need a win at Pauley Pavilion. For UCLA, the 5-0 start to the conference season is now a distant memory, especially after an overtime loss to Arizona State last weekend. The Bruins are trying to right the ship of a sinking season and head coach Ben Howland would like nothing more than to head into the conference tournament with a little momentum. Powe should have an easier time staying out of foul trouble against UCLA’s front court tandem than he did against Stanford and could post similar numbers to the 19 points and 14 rebounds he had against the Bruins in a 76-62 victory at Haas in January.

Stanford (21-0, 12-0) at USC (10-12, 5-8)

The Trojans led by six at the half and gave the Cardinal a mild scare when the two met at Maples Pavilion in January and USC should be at least as tough at home in the cavernous confines of the Sports Arena. The key for Stanford will be Chris Hernandez, who torched the Trojans for 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the first meeting. Hernandez is coming off an 0-for-5 shooting performance at Cal. Stanford’s biggest concern will once again be Desmon Farmer, who lit up Arizona for 40 points in an upset win at home earlier this season. The return of Matt Haryasz against Cal bolsters a Stanford lineup which has more than weathered the absence of senior center Justin Davis. Look for Haryasz and Rob Little to take advantage of Rory O’Neill inside in a close one.

Washington State (11-12, 5-8) at Washington (12-9, 7-6)

The Huskies, winners of seven of their last eight, conclude a three-game home stand against rival Washington State. Washington has won the last nine meetings between the two schools, including a 75-62 win in Pullman earlier this year. The matchup pits contrasting styles and strengths head-to-head, as Washington boasts the Pac-10’s second most prolific scoring offense (81.8 points per game) while the Cougars are holding opponents to a conference low 57.7 points per game. The home crowd should be enough to keep the Huskies from being lulled to sleep by Dick Bennett’s methodical system and Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson should create just enough fast break opportunities to keep Washington hot.

     

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