Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek ducks to avoid being hit with an errant ball during last Saturday’s game against Arizona. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at Arizona, Thursday, 6 p.m., ESPN2; UCLA at Arizona State, Saturday at 1 p.m., FSW:
UCLA has watched Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams make their share of freshman mistakes yet keep the team in Pac-12 upper regions, but Arizona and Arizona State have also been banking on a particular newcomer for their success thus far.
Arizona’s Brandon Ashley defends against Utah’s Jordan Loveridge in a game on Jan. 5 in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Wily Low)
Arizona 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward Brandon Ashley has the luxury of watching seniors Mark Lyons (14.6 ppg) and Fairfax High’s Solomon Hill (13.6 ppg) do the bulk of the scoring, leaving him to pull in (according to ESPN statistics) 23 percent of the opposing team’s misses when he’s on the floor. Meanwhile, Arizona State 5-foot-10 guard Jahii Carson leads his team with 17.2 points a game and 5.2 assists a game for a team that’s been relying on its defense. In No. 7 Arizona’s 71-54 victory over ASU on Saturday, Ashley helped hold Carrick Felix, ASU’s second-best scorer, to just five points on 1-of-8 shooting. Carson had 22 points, four points and four assists before getting in foul trouble. The victory by Arizona (16-1, 4-1) didn’t vault it to the top of the conference – undefeated Oregon and Washington still have that territory – but it puts the Wildcats on even footing with the Bruins (15-4, 5-1), coming off their loss to the Ducks.
Also in the desert, USC (8-11, 3-3) has ASU (14-4, 3-2) on Thursday (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net) before Arizona on Saturday (4 p.m., ESPNU).
BEST OF THE REST:
NBA: Lakers at Chicago, 6:30 p.m., TNT, TWC SportsNet:
Bully for the NBA to have the 2-2* Lakers play in the annual MLK Day nationally-televised celebration, which starts with Indiana-Memphis (10 a.m., ESPN) and includes Brooklyn-New York (12:30 p.m., NBA TV) and San Antonio-Philadelphia (4 p.m., TNT) — and don’t forget the Clippers at Golden State (1 p.m., Prime). Nine NBA games in all are scheduled today.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Cincinnati at Syracuse, 12:30 p.m., ESPN; Oklahoma State at Baylor, 2:30 p.m., ESPN; Georgetown at Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m., ESPN; Texas at Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Who says college hoops has to take the holiday off?
NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The top two teams in the Western Conference have meet once already – on Nov. 21, OKC took a 117-111 overtime victory, highlighted by Kevin Durant going 19 for 21 at the line en route to scoring 35 points. “He doesn’t need any help scoring,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told official Kevin Fehr after one call. The first 18,000 fans at the game get a nifty Chris Paul bobblehead. Will he be in unform as well? The Clippers’ week continues at Phoenix (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., TNT, Prime) and at Portland (Saturday, 7 p.m., Prime).
NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
*Odds are fairly good the Lakers are 2-3 in their “new season” by the time this one starts.
GOLF: PGA Farmers Insurance Open from Torrey Pines in San Diego, first round, Golf Channel, noon:
Tiger Woods might look into getting some of the title sponsor’s insurance before he cracks open his PGA season here. He missed the cut at last week’s European event in the United Arab Emirates because of a 2-stroke penalty from a rules infraction, but still received his $3 million appearance fee. After this stop, Woods plans to skip Phoenix, Pebble Beach and the L.A. event at Riviera before the WGC match play event in Arizona. CBS has the final two rounds Saturday (noon to 3 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 3:30 p.m.)
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount, 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Just a peek at the WCC standings and …. oh, who needs this more, the 1-4 Waves or 1-5 Lions?
NHL: Ducks vs. Vancouver, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
The Ducks get no favors having to play the Canucks twice in their first three games, and this one counts as their home opener after playing today in Calgary (6 p.m., Prime), and then back at home against Nashville (Saturday, 7:30 p.m, FSW).
NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Kings’ loss in the season opener at home was an aberration – meaning, most of this early abbreviated regular-season schedule is set on the road, starting with trips to Colorado (Tuesday, 6 p.m., FSW) and Edmonton (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., FSW). Then comes a rematch of the Western Conference finals. Think any animosity has thawed for Coyotes fans perhaps reigning boos down on Dustin Brown?
TENNIS: Australian Open, women’s final, women’s final, 6 a.m., ESPN2:
When Maria Sharapova ousted Venus Williams in the third round of the Aussie Open last week with a 6-1, 6-3 victory, she acted almost as if she won the whole thing — a loud shriek, fists in the air, bent on her knees. Jon Scott of Tennis.com called it conduct “’unbecoming a champ.” The only way that the second-seeded Sharapova, the ’08 Aussie Open winner, can meet the other Williams sister, third-seeded Serena, is in the final. Then, all shrieks are on. The women’s semifinals are Wednesday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2); the men’s semifinals are early Friday (12:30 a.m., ESPN2) leading into the final Sunday (6 a.m., ESPN2).
FIGURE SKATING: U.S. Championships from Omaha, Neb., women’s free skate, 9 p.m., Channel 4:
Arcadia’s Mirai Nagasu, ranked 12th in the latest world rankings, has changed her training regime – no more long drives to Cathedral City to go to Frank Carroll’s training center, and staying closer to home with two new coaches while attending Pasadena City College. “After nationals last year, I took a lot of time off and thought about what I wanted to change,” said the 19-year-old, the 2008 U.S. champion who was seventh at last year’s event.” The main thing that struck hard was the drive and how tiring it was. To make it all the time didn’t feel it was well worth my time. I decided I wanted to make a change. Even though Frank and I worked really well, a lot of distractions came in the way. I wanted to start fresh again, and I decided going to a rink close to my house would be a better idea. I’ve been in the gym way more; four (extra) hours a day makes a big difference. You might not know it, but just sitting there in the car takes a big toll on the body, even if you’re not burning any calories. I think it’s been helpful to me to get out of the car and hit the gym.” The 2012 winner Ashley Wagner, training in Aliso Viejo and attending Saddleback College, is ranked third in the world and comes in as the favorite. Alissa Czisny, the U.S. champion in ’09 and ’11, is ranked 11th, but has withdrawn from this event because of an injured hip. The network also has the women’s pairs free and dance free (noon, Channel 4), and the men’s free skate (Sunday at noon), where Jeremy Abbott returns as the three-time U.S. champion (2012, ’10 and ’09).
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Senior Bowl from Mobile, Ala., 1 p.m., NFL Network:
Nope, no Matt Barkley. Instead, it’s a UCLA-heavy representation with running back Johnathan Franklin, defensive tackle Datone Jones and punter Jeff Locks. USC’s lone rep: DB T.J. McDonald. The other marquee names include Michigan QB turned WR Denard Robinson, Oregon running back Kenyon Barner, Wisconsin running back Monte Ball and Oklahoma QB Landry Jones.
NBA: Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
ABC can’t flex out of this one?
NFL: Pro Bowl in Honolulu, 4 p.m., Channel 4:
Seriously, this could be the last NFL All-Star game ever played. Some will depend on how many tickets are sold at Aloha Stadium. Most will depend on the quality of play. This has been a game of run and pass — those who don’t run from it will simply ask for a pass. Aaron Rodgers has already backed out, and he’ll be supposedly replaced by Eli Manning on the NFC squad, with the primary job of handing it off to Adrian Peterson. The AFC says Peyton Manning will be there, hooking up again with Reggie Wayne. Andrew Luck? No luck.