Pac-12 Power Rankings — 1/28/13

1. Oregon (18-2, 7-0) — The Ducks have a clear path to the Pac-12 title, but starting point guard Dominic Artis is out indefinitely with a foot injury. The freshman was averaging 10.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists before missing Oregon’s win over Washington.

2. Arizona State (16-4, 5-2) — ASU isn’t the second-best team in the conference, but it’s probably the hottest. A dominant win over UCLA proved Arizona State’s contender status, but will its short rotation wear out? In the Sun Devils’ last two games, four players logged at least 81 combined minutes.

3. UCLA (16-5, 6-2) — An initially triumphant road trip turned out to be a wash after the brutal loss to Arizona State. At their best, the Bruins can knock off top teams, but inconsistency will likely keep them on the edges of the top 25 for the season.

4. Arizona (17-2, 5-2) — The lack of a true playmaker hurts Arizona at times (see Mark Lyons’ 0 assists against UCLA) but the Wildcats are arguably still the conference’s most talented team. They played Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 1/26/13 Answers

Q: How do you see things shaking out for this basketball team this year, tournament wise. Do you see a 5-7 seed shipped out to some locale giving their second round opponent a “home game”? Or do you see a little higher seed, 3 or 4, with a slightly better location?

Definitely the former, and probably more like a No. 6 or 7 seed. UCLA does feel like a team that could get hot and make a run if everything breaks right, so a Sweet Sixteen isn’t an impossibility.

Q: Tony Parker played like Kwame Brown today. How good is he? Does Ben Howland play Parker more or less after Saturday?

He’s raw. He played like a little-used freshman on Saturday, but he’s also shown promising glimpses this season — albeit for very short stretches. His minutes can’t exactly go down from what he was getting before Travis Wear’s concussion. If Wear doesn’t Continue reading

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Four-star QB to UCLA?

Four-star quarterback Asiantii Woulard visited UCLA this weekend. Among the things that impressed him: seeing P. Diddy at the W Hotel, talking to Maurice Jones-Drew and catching sight of the Playboy Mansion.

He won’t officially decide until Signing Day on Feb. 6, but that didn’t stop Trent Dilfer from linking him to Westwood.

The Bruins were a latecomer to his recruitment, but seem to have made up ground quickly. Woulard’s father said recently that the dual-threat quarterback — rated No. 4 in the country by Rivals and No. 1 by ESPN — has zeroed in on UCLA and Clemson as his top two choices. The latter was one of the earliest to chase the Winter Park, Fla., prospect.

Woulard, 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, only played quarterback his junior and senior years after spending the first half of his high school career at receiver, but has significant upside. He won MVP at the Elite 11 quarterback competition last summer when he was still considered a South Florida commit.

Both Clemson and UCLA offer similar football situations — he would be an understudy to either Tajh Boyd or Brett Hundley — so campus environment could make a big difference.

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Arizona State 78, UCLA 60: Bruins head home bruised

Lucky to be down just six points at halftime, UCLA needed to enter the second half swinging.

The Bruins proceeded to give up a 10-4 run to ASU, creating a 14-point deficit that only shrank to single digits briefly — for 16 seconds in the with just over two minutes left in the game. Less than two full days after a triumphant win over No. 6 Arizona, UCLA fell apart against the Sun Devils.

Rebounding had been the supposed emphasis throughout the week’s practices, and the Bruins actually beat the Wildcats on the boards Thursday night. But that grit did not last. ASU dominated UCLA with a 53-33 advantage on the boards. The Bruins’ next-worst margin was only -11, against UC Irvine.

Can lack of energy be blamed? UCLA looked worn out for much of the game, but Continue reading

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UCLA at Arizona State: Halftime Update

UCLA trails Arizona State 39-33 at halftime, a deficit that could be much greater considering how thoroughly the Sun Devils are abusing the Bruins inside the paint.

ASU has scored an astounding 28 points there to UCLA’s 12, with the anchor being 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski. With Travis Wear out with a concussion and Tony Parker picking up two quick fouls early, the Bruins don’t have an answer for a guy who — without jumping — can rebound over most of the players on the floor. Bachynski leads the Sun Devils with 14 points and nine rebounds — including six of the game’s nine offensive rebounds — and has only missed one of his eight field goal attempts. Kyle Anderson is trying to help out David Wear on double teams, something that needs to work better in the second half if UCLA is to have a chance in this game.

Jordan Adams is keeping the Bruins afloat with a game-high 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. His quick hands have also been disruptive, forcing two steals and at least one other tap out of bounds. The Sun Devils have spent the first half sagging of Larry Drew II, and will continue to do so if he can’t keep them honest with some open jump shots.

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UCLA at Arizona State: What to Watch

Arizona State (15-4, 4-2)
Tipoff: 1 p.m., Wells Fargo Arena
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Net/AM 570

At a glance: Might ASU present a bit of a trap with UCLA high off its Arizona win — its first road victory over a ranked team since 2008? Maybe, but the Sun Devils still feel like a team playing above its head. They’re certainly better than their preseason pick for 11th in the conference, but I’m not certain that they’re a top-five team.

– Most concerning is Arizona State’s lack of depth, something hurt even more by the suspension of sixth man Chris Colvin (19.6 mpg). Point guard Jahii Carson is one of the best freshmen in the country, but he also leads the Pac-12 with 36.4 minutes per game. Three other players average over 30 minutes per game.

In an overtime win against USC on Thursday, four Sun Devils topped 40 minutes, leading coach Herb Sendek to scale back Friday’s practice. Worth noting: the Trojans, who average 66.1 points per game, scored 93 in Tempe. They topped 80 in regulation for the first time since a season opener against Coppin State.

– ASU is one of three Pac-12 teams who rank below UCLA in rebounding margin, so it’s hard to imagine Continue reading

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