Nine games down, nine games to go for everyone in the Pac-12.
There are seven teams within two games of first place but the Arizona Wildcats know they no longer have to watch the out-of-town scoreboard. The only opponent that matters is the one sitting on the other bench as the Cats chase Pac-12 championship number 13 and the program’s 26th overall conference title.
TWit-Pac has your first-place TV schedule (all times Arizona/Mountain):
|Wed Feb 6||Stanford||ARIZONA||7 p.m.||ESPNEWS|
|Thu Feb 7||Washington||UCLA||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat Feb 9||Stanford||ASU||5 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Sun Feb 10||Cal||ARIZONA||5 p.m.||P12N|
Odd schedule for Arizona this week. The Wildcats make their first Wednesday night appearance of the Pac-12 season and probably their first appearance ever on ESPNEWS. Then the Cats have three days off before playing again on Sunday, so it’s almost like two single-game weeks instead of one basketball weekend.
On to your own personal extended basketball weekend:
Wed. Feb. 6
Stanford (14-8 / 5-4) at ARIZONA (19-2 / 7-2)
The longest active winning streak in the conference is three games, held by both the Wildcats and Cardinal.
Utah (10-11 / 2-7) at OSU (11-11 / 1-8)
Here you go, Beavers. If you want to taste sweet, sweet victory one more time it has to be now.
Thu. Feb. 7
Washington (13-9 / 5-4) at UCLA (16-6 / 6-3)
The Bruins were a mess, then they were good and now they’re a mess again. To make matters worse they only have two home games left after this weekend.
Cal (13-8 / 5-4) at ASU (17-5 / 6-3)
The Sun Devils were a few defensive stops against Washington away from a tie for first place. In other shocking developments they have scored 90 points four different times this year.
Colorado (14-7 / 4-5) at Oregon (18-4 / 7-2)
The Ducks continue to wait for what is apparently the most valuable foot in the west to heal. Oregon has committed 65 turnovers in the three games without Dominic Artis. The freshman still isn’t practicing and will be a “game-day decision” on Thursday.
WSU (11-11 / 2-7) at USC (9-13 / 4-5)
Bob Cantu pulled a Tim Kish and beat his team’s chief rival to earn a lifetime supply of handshakes and back slaps on USC’s campus.
Sat. Feb. 9
Stanford at ASU
The last time the Cardinal hit the road it lost the first game by 21 and won the second game by 31. UA fans wouldn’t mind a repeat performance this week.
Utah at Oregon
Oregon should be able to win this game even if they had seven injured feet.
WSU at UCLA
Since the start of the new year the Cougars are undefeated when scoring at least 70 points. The problem is it’s only happened twice.
Sun. Feb. 3
Cal at ARIZONA
Junior guard Allen Crabbe of the Bears leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 19.4 points per game. He has, however, scored below that average in five of his last seven games.
Colorado at OSU
The Buffaloes are playing like their NCAA tournament appearance last season was enough to tide them over for a while. Earn an at-large bid? Ralphie says. Nah, we’re good.
Washington at USC
In the Huskies’ barn-burner against ASU, Andrew Andrews had a career careers high highs 20 point points.
* * *
If you waited that one last week for the Cats to get back into the race you were certainly rewarded.
Now it’s just a matter of winning. If you keep putting up W’s, Oregon can’t get away. These home games are absolutely critical if the Cats want to add another year to the championship banner.
Defense remains the key for this team and the results last week show it. Arizona held Washington to 37% shooting from the field and Wazzu was only able to connect on 41% of its shots. No, neither team is a juggernaut but neither is Colorado who shot 48% against Arizona, and Washington certainly didn’t have any trouble putting the ball into the basket against ASU (53% shooting).
A stat moving in the wrong direction is Mark Lyons’ 3-point shooting percentage. Through the first 11 games of the season the senior shot 39% (22-of-56) from behind the arc. In the 10 games since then he’s down to 28% (16-for-58). Until things turn around from outside Lyons would be wise to focus on getting into the lane and taking advantage of his 87% free-throw shooting while leaving the bulk of the long-range attempts to Solomon Hill (42%) and Kevin Parrom (39%).
Arizona started the season as the favorite to win the Pac-12 and has new life at the halfway point. Now all you gotta do is win.
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