Pair of rivalry games highlight the week in Pac-12 hoops
A look at things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Southern California at No. 6 UCLA, Saturday. The Trojans (21-5, 8-5 Pac-12) won the first meeting between the Southern California rivals 84-76 on Jan. 25 behind Shaqquan Aaron’s 23 points. The Bruins (23-3, 10-3 Pac-12) have not lost since, winning four straight, including last week’s 82-79 victory over then-No. 5 Oregon. USC is still in decent shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but a win over UCLA, which moved up four spots in this week’s poll, would certainly be a big boost to its resume.
LOOKING AHEAD: California is still on the NCAA Tournament bubble and certainly can’t afford a loss to Stanford, adding another layer of intrigue to this rivalry game on Friday. The Bears (18-7, 9-4) have won five of six, their only loss in that span by five points to No. 5 Arizona. Cal beat Stanford 66-55 in their first meeting on Jan. 29 behind a huge game from Ivan Raab, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds. The Cardinal will need to find a way to slow him to earn the season split.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 had three teams in the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s top 16: No. 8 Oregon, No. 9 Arizona and No. 15 UCLA. … The Pac-12 has had five games between ranked conference teams this season, most in the regular season since 2008-09. … Oregon has the nation’s longest home winning streak at 40 games and Arizona is fifth nationally with 20 straight home wins.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: A pair of back-to-back rivalry games highlight the week in Pac-12 women’s basketball. No. 10 Stanford plays at Cal on Thursday, then hosts the Bears on Sunday. In the desert, Arizona hosts Arizona State on Friday, then heads up the I-10 to play the Sun Devils in Tempe.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Torian Graham, Arizona State. Graham bounced back from missing all nine of his 3-point shots against Cal by making six in a win over Stanford, including two in the final 76 seconds. The senior guard is Arizona State’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per game and is shooting 37 percent from the 3-point arc.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.