Bay area schools rise to top of Pac-12

Bay area schools rise to top of Pac-12

Published Jan. 18, 2012 3:31 p.m. ET

Colorado (11-6, 3-2 Pac-12) got knocked down to earth last weekend.

The Buffaloes were atop the Pac-12 standings entering last weekend's games, after the liberty of playing their first three conference games at home. The Bay Area wasn't as kind. They lost 57-50 at Cal (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) and 84-64 at Stanford (15-3, 5-1 Pac-12). Colorado returns home to take on the Arizona schools this weekend beginning with Arizona State (6-11, 2-3 Pac-12) Thursday night.

With the Buffaloes in the middle of the road in the conference standings, that leaves three one-loss teams at the top. Stanford and Cal are both 5-1 while Washington (11-6) is 4-1 in conference play. The Bay Area schools will be in the Pacific Northwest this weekend. Neither Stanford nor Cal has favored well at Washington recently.

The Huskies have taken seven of their last 10 home games against Cal and own a three-game winning streak in the series. They've taken eight out of 10 against Stanford in Seattle. 

Cal will get the first crack at Pac-12 Player of the Week Terrance Ross and the Huskies on Thursday. Ross averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds last weekend including a 30-point, 14-rebound performance against Washington State (9-8, 1-4 Pac-12) last Sunday — both career highs. The Golden Bears will be without leading rebounder Richard Solomon, who has been ruled academically ineligible. He will miss the remainder of the season.

The next win for Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar will be the 300th of his career and the 100th career Pac-10/12 conference victory. He'll join Cal's Mike Montgomery (252) and UCLA's Ben Howland (100) as conference coaches with 100 or more wins.    

Howland's Bruins (10-7, 3-2 Pac-12) will take a three-game winning streak into Oregon State Thursday night on Prime Ticket. Their win at USC (5-13, 0-5 Pac-12) was the 100th career conference win for Howland at UCLA but the first road win of the season for the Bruins. With the exception of a win over Division II Chaminade, UCLA has yet to win a game outside of Southern California. Howland has asked the Wear twins to be more aggressive and get to the free throw line more. Travis Wear has been getting there and making them, holding a streak of 20 consecutive free throw makes.

Oregon State (11-7, 1-5 Pac-12) features the conference's leading scorer, Jared Cunningham (17.6 ppg), who's also third in the nation in steals (2.9 spg). The backcourt tandem of Cunningham and Ahmad Starks has averaged 31.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 5 steals over the past 10 games for the Beavers, who've lost 13 straight to UCLA.  

Oregon (13-5), meanwhile, is 4-2 in conference play, including an impressive 3-1 on the road. They've won seven of their last nine games and for the second time in 34 years, they have swept Arizona schools on the road. The Ducks play five of their next seven at home, beginning with a Pac-12 winless USC team on Thursday.

The Trojans lead the conference in scoring defense (56.5 points per game) but are last in scoring (53.6)

There may not be a hotter shooting team in the conference than Arizona State. Over their last four games, the Sun Devils are shooting 55.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three point range. This is all without their leading scorer Keala King, who has been dismissed from the program. King, a Compton native who played his prep ball at Compton Dominguez and Mater Dei, could be headed back to Southern California. There are reports that Long Beach State will be the destination for King.

Arizona (12-6, 3-2 Pac-12) will be at Utah (4-13, 1-4 Pac-12) on Thursday. The transition to the Pac-12 hasn't been a smooth one for the Utes. They're 11th in the conference in scoring (56.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (41.1 percent) and last in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (28.3 percent) and scoring margin (-15.4).