Pac-12 Power Rankings — 1/21/13

1. Arizona (16-1, 4-1) — The outstanding guard play of Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons draw the most attention, with the latter just named Pac-12 Player of the Week. The attention is well deserved, given that they combined for 43 points in beating Arizona State. But also key to the Wildcats’ success is their conference-best rebounding margin (+9.5), one that comes despite not having a top-15 individual rebounder. Some credit goes to sixth man Kevin Parrom, who’s averaging a career-best 5.0 rebounds per game in just 22.8 minutes. He also drew a crucial charge late in the first half at ASU, giving Jahii Carson his third foul.

2. Oregon (16-2, 5-0) — The Ducks’ conference title chances are helped immensely by their remaining schedule. Oregon is a balanced squad that proved it was legitimate by beating both Arizona and UCLA, but only faces one more team with a winning conference record (Washington, twice). Oregon might trip up once or twice through the remainder of the calendar, but it has a wide margin of error against teams with a combined 15-28 record.

3. UCLA (15-4, 5-1) — The Bruins are a good team that doesn’t have an answer for skilled big men. That’s not a good sign for UCLA as it prepares for Arizona, whose forward Solomon Hill is an efficient, floor-stretching scorer. His offense has drifted more to the perimeter this season, but he’s still averaging 5.4 rebounds and getting to the line.

4. Arizona State (14-4, 3-2) — ASU relies heavily on Carrick Felix and Jahii Carson; when one struggles, as Felix did in shooting 1 of 7 against Arizona, the team follows suit. Backup point guard Chris Colvin was suspended for the third time as a Sun Devil, which created a huge backcourt absence once Carson got into foul trouble against Arizona. Colvin was also suspended once at Iowa State, and head coach Herb Sendek did not indicate how long he would be out.

5. Colorado (12-6, 2-4) — The Buffs are underachieving considering the talent on their roster, but they’re entering a soft part of their schedule (Stanford, Cal, Utah). Will they climb back above .500 in the next two weeks? That might depend on whether or Askia Booker can find the basket. The sophomore guard is shooting 30.9 percent in conference play, and hasn’t hit a 3-pointer since facing UCLA. He has also taken a team-high 243 shots this season, 76 more than second-place Josh Scott.

6. Washington (12-6, 4-1) — Washington beat Colorado for its best conference win of the season, but followed up with a mystifying faceplant at home against Utah. That loss may look better if Larry Krystkowiak gets his Utes to surge, but there’s no excuse for how the Huskies suddenly forgot to play defense. After limiting four straight opponents to sub-40 percent shooting, Washington gave up over 60 percent in their worst performance since early December. The team may deserve a mulligan, but the rest of its schedule is unfriendly: Arizona, Oregon and UCLA are all slated twice.

7. Stanford (11-7, 2-3) — Dwight Powell has been the Cardinal’s best player, but still hasn’t flashed the truly dominant performance his skills would suggest. Still, the junior has strung together five straight double-digit efforts for the first time in his career, and is getting in less foul trouble than he did in November and December.

8. Utah (9-9, 1-5) — After close losses to Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA, the Utes finally broke through. Their 74-65 win at Washington signaled their first road victory since joining the Pac-12, and may have marked a turning point in the program as well. Utah hadn’t held a lead since facing the Sun Devils on Jan. 2, but never trailed at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

9. Cal (10-7, 2-3) — Justin Cobbs was named Pac-12 Player of the Week back in late November, but has looked terrible in conference play. The junior guard has shot below 30 percent in three games this month. In the Bears’ loss to Stanford, he and leading scorer Allen Crabbe combined for one first-half field goal. Coach Mike Montgomery might be in for his first-ever bottom-half conference finish.

10. USC (8-11, 3-3) — Interim head coach Bob Cantu got the Trojans to play Oregon to a two-point loss, which was an encouraging show of energy after Kevin O’Neill’s firing. The team then gutted out a 69-68 win over Oregon State, which would be more impressive if the Beavers were any good.

11. Washington State (10-8, 1-4) — Forward Brock Motum remains one of the conference’s better players, and has scored double digits in every game this season. The Cougars as a whole, however, aren’t very threatening. WSU’s free throw rate (34.3 percent) is third-worst in the Pac-12, something that showed when it took just nine free throws in a home loss to Colorado.

12. Oregon State (10-8, 0-5) — When will the Beavers finally win a Pac-12 game? At least head coach Craig Robinson got a sweet photobomb in during the presidential inauguration.

Past rankings:
January 14
January 7

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