Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Philip “Scooby” Wright III

Would be better if Scooby’s real first name weren’t Phillip, but otherwise still a solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

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UCLA clinches No. 2 seed in Pac-12 Tournament

UCLA hasn’t played yet this week, but games elsewhere in the Pac-12 sealed the Bruins a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. The team will start its Las Vegas schedule with a 6 p.m. tipoff on Pac-12 Networks next Thursday.

Colorado helped UCLA by beating Stanford, 59-56, Wednesday night and knocking the Cardinal to 9-8 in league play. Arizona State also fell out of the race for second one night prior with a loss to Oregon.

The Buffaloes and Sun Devils are sitting at 10-7, leaving them 1.5 games behind the Bruins. Even if UCLA loses to both Washington and Washington State to end the season, it would head head-to-head tiebreakers against both in the event of a three-way tie.

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UCLA beats Colorado with second-half flurry

With just over a minute left on the game clock, Pauley Pavilion let out a collective gasp — one mixed in equal parts disappointment and disbelief.

No, it’s not the game that was in question. UCLA already led by double digits, and was comfortably on its way to a 92-74 win over Colorado on Thursday night.

It’s just that the home crowd had grown so accustomed to long bombs finding nothing but net. And by the time David Wear’s 3-point attempt spun out in a game long decided, those 8,431 had perhaps only hazy memories of what misses looked like.

Late is better than never. After an underwhelming start to its rematch against Colorado — 10 assists to seven turnovers through the first 20 minutes — UCLA (19-5, 8-3) found its groove and cruised to its fourth straight home victory.

The Bruins shot 8-of-12 from beyond the arc in the second half, and 20-of-32 overall. On the night, they finished 11-of-22 from long range. Continue reading

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What to watch: Colorado at UCLA

Colorado (18-6, 7-4) at UCLA (18-5, 7-3)
When:
Thursday, 6 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Bill Walton)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Norman Powell vs. Askia Booker. Last time these two met, UCLA’s junior guard had 19 points to his counterpart’s game-high 21. Powell is a strong man-to-man defender, so it’s Booker — two inches shorter, 45 pounds lighter — that will likely be at a disadvantage. The Colorado guard picked up four fouls when the Bruins visited Boulder, mostly due to Powell’s skill at driving down the lane.

The two have since blossomed into increasingly important roles for their respective teams. With star guard Spencer Dinwiddie sidelined, Booker is a main reason that the Buffs have won three straight. In his past six games, he is averaging 5.67 assists.

No. 2: The 3-point line. Colorado allows 37.1 percent of opposing shots to come from beyond the arc, which is the worst mark of anyone in the conference besides UCLA (42.2). Continue reading

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UCLA scales Boulder, earns first win over ranked team

For the second year in a row, UCLA leaves Boulder victorious.

The No. 25 Bruins earned their first win over a ranked team Thursday night, beating 21st-ranked Colorado, 69-56. Junior guard Norman Powell led the team with a 19 points, including 13 by halftime. The total tied his season high, and was accompanied by three rebounds and four steals.

Sophomore Jordan Adams had 14 points on an uninspiring 4-of-15 performance from the field, but grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds — six on offense.

That latter number helped UCLA continue its recent trend on the boards. Following strong efforts against No. 1 Arizona and Arizona State, it edged the Buffs with a 41-37 rebounding margin. The team survived an off-night from sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson, who didn’t score in the first half and finished with six points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Continue reading

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What to watch: No. 25 UCLA at No. 21 Colorado

No. 25 UCLA (13-3, 2-1) at No. 21 Colorado (14-3, 3-1)
Coors Events Center, Thursday, 5 p.m. PT
TV:
Pac-12 Networks (Ted Robinson, Don MacLean, Jill Savage)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)

No. 1: Can Colorado still compete without Spencer Dinwiddie? The Buffs have enough talent and a capable coach in Tad Boyle that an NCAA tournament berth isn’t out of the question. But losing their leader in scoring (14.7), assists (3.8), steals (1.5) and 3-point shooting (26 made, at a .413 clip) is a blow that no cumulative effort from the rest of the roster can replace.

Fellow guard Askia Booker already leads the team with 197 field goals attempted — 66 more than Dinwiddie — and is only shooting .381 from the field. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Former Ute succumbing to cancer

– Bronzell Miller might be dead by the time you read this. The former Utah linebacker is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and may only have a week left to live.

– Bellevue standout and UCLA recruiting target Budda Baker is still waiting for the release of his brother Robert, imprisoned for first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm.

– How did Tad Boyle turn Colorado into a contender?

– “But the difference between being a head football coach in college and the NFL is like the difference between Wal-Mart and Wall Street.” Continue reading

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Jayon Brown named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of Week

Jayon Brown’s big fumble recovery this past weekend has landed him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

In the second quarter of 45-23 win against Colorado on Saturday, UCLA’s true freshman jumped on top of a loose ball dislodged by fellow first-year Cameron Judge. The recovery gave the Bruins the ball on the Buffs’ 14-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Brett Hundley found Devin Fuller in the end zone, bumping UCLA’s lead 21-10. Continue reading

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Receiver Devin Fuller reviews 76-yard touchdown catch


Sophomore receiver Devin Fuller erupted for a career night against Colorado, catching a pair of touchdowns and scoring another on a lateral. His first end zone trip opened scoring for UCLA, a 76-yard pass that put the Bruins on the board late in the first quarter.

“The play was, I had a post,” said Fuller, who was used in more deep routes than he had been earlier in the season. “The safety sat on the inside of me. I just had to take it over the top. Brett threw a great ball. I just had to make a play on it. My eyes got big when I saw the ball in the air.”

The former high school quarterback said he had a few five-touchdown games when he played at Old Tappan in New Jersey, as well as a few passes that were around 76 yards. Most of those yards came after the catch, he added. Hundley’s ball traveled about 50 yards through the air.

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Anthony Barr surprised Buffs quarterback pushed him

For the first time in his defensive career, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr went a full game without recording a tackle for loss.

He still made sure Colorado remembered him. In the fourth quarter of the Bruin’s 45-23 win over the Buffs, the All-American crushed true freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau at around midfield, drawing a 14-yard penalty for roughing the passer.

After popping back up, Liufau got in Barr’s face and shoved him back, just one of several chippy moments between the Bruins and the Buffs.

However, Liufau is listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. Barr is listed at 6-foot-4, 245 — and said during the summer that he was up to 255. On the next play, the latter hit the former again, this time incurring a 15-yard penalty.

Asked how many quarterbacks had ever pushed him before, Barr said: “Not many. Not many. That was also a first.”

What words did they exchange? “Nothing nice.” Continue reading

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