Pac-12 Games of the Week Preview
Be part of the new conference bundle Games of the Week. Get inside the Pac-12 games with Thursday Games of the Week contest (Enter Contest). Here’s a look at the conference matchups.
No 5 UCLA Bruins (24-3) vs Arizona State Sun Devils (13-15)
UCLA is the only Pac-12 team that’s unbeaten in February. The Bruins are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season, a 102-70 victory Saturday against USC, a team that beat the Bruins by eight points in January. UCLA also put up 102 points the last time it faced Arizona State and small forward Isaac Hamilton had his most productive game of the season, scoring 33 points with the help of 9-for-14 shooting from 3-point range. Hamilton has slowed down of late and hasn’t surpassed his 14.3 scoring average in the last five games, but the Bruins won all five so it hasn’t been a concern.
Arizona State wasn’t able to add to its two-game winning streak and lost at Washington State on Saturday. Torian Graham scored 26 points off the bench against UCLA in the last meeting, and he’s averaging 23.7 points in the last three games while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor.
USC Trojans (21-6) vs No 4 Arizona Wildcats (25-3)
Arizona hasn’t been at full strength very often this season, but the fourth-ranked Wildcats should have all their key personnel available against USC. Starting point guard Kadeem Allen missed the last two games with a finger injury and starting forward Dusan Ristic missed the most recent game with a sprained left ankle, though both are expected to return against the Trojans. Arizona has had its full rotation for just seven games this season, as Allonzo Trier, the team’s top returning scorer, was suspended the first 19 contests. The Wildcats used only seven players in their 76-68 win Saturday at Washington and received just two points from their reserves, but still maintained a one-game lead atop the Pac-12 standings with the win.
USC is coming off losses to No. 7 Oregon and No. 5 UCLA, but is still a game behind fourth-place California because the Golden Bears have also dropped their last two games. USC forward Bennie Boatwright continues to get stronger after missing two months with a knee injury, and the 6-10 sophomore is coming off his first double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 102-70 loss to UCLA last weekend.
Utah Utes (17-10) vs Colorado Buffaloes (16-12)
Colorado and Utah have a combined six NCAA Tournament appearances since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. They are currently on the outside of the bubble looking in. Utah got off to a 5-2 start in conference play, but they have 11 players who didn’t log a minute of playing time a season ago. The lack of experience seemingly has caught up with coach Larry Krystkowiak’s crew. Colorado stumbled to a 0-7 Pac-12 start, and even a 6-2 mark since still leaves the Buffaloes three games short of .500 in the conference with three to play.
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