Pac-12 basketball report: Arizona-UCLA shapes up as game of the year
A look at things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 5 UCLA at No. 4 Arizona, Saturday. This one could be the game of the year in the conference. It will be the first game between top-five teams in the AP Top 25 in nine years and the seventh in conference history. Arizona swept the Washington schools last week, despite playing without point guard Kadeem Allen and center Dusan Ristic limited to one half. Both are expected to be back in the lineup against the Bruins, who will be looking to avenge a 96-85 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 21. Expect another high-scoring game at McKale Center.
LOOKING AHEAD: It’s getting to be crunch time for the Pac-12’s NCAA Tournament bubble teams. California has a big resume-building opportunity against No. 6 Oregon on Wednesday and Southern California has one at Arizona on Thursday. Both are in decent shape, but another marquee win certainly wouldn’t hurt.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Oregon’s Jordan Bell is sixth on the Pac-12’s career blocked shots list with 207. … The Pac-12 has five players named to the Naismith Trophy top 30: Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball of UCLA. … Seven of the 15 player of the week awards in the conference have gone to freshmen — Markkanen for the second time last week — tying the most (with 2007-08) since the award was established in 1983.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh Hawkinson, Washington State. The 6-foot-10 senior is the Division I active leader with 54 double-doubles and is third among active players with 975 career rebounds. He leads the Cougars with 15.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: The Pac-12’s regular season champion will be decided this weekend. No. 8 Stanford and No. 10 Oregon State are tied at the top at 14-2, with No. 11 Washington a game behind at 13-3. Stanford and Oregon State play on Friday in a game that could decide the title. … Washington’s Kelsey Plum moved into second on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list last week and needs 78 points to break Jackie Stiles’ all-time record.
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