Isaac Hamilton scores career-high 36 as UCLA blows out USC

LAS VEGAS >> That UCLA beat USC in the Pac-12 Tournament wasn’t much of a surprise.

That Isaac Hamilton was the Bruins’ best offensive player? Well, this was new.

The sophomore guard scored a career-high 36 points in a 96-70 decision over the Trojans on Thursday, one that punched a ticket to the Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against No. 1-seed Arizona.

It was an astounding performance, particularly for a player who entered the MGM Grand Garden arena averaging 10.1 points per game. Hamilton had only topped 20 points once in his career. In four of his last eight games, he hadn’t even scored in double digits. Continue reading

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UCLA to start Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona State or USC

Thomas Welsh (40) celebrates with Norman Powell (4) and Bryce Alford as UCLA defeated USC 85-74 on March 4, 2015.  The teams could face each other again in Las Vegas. (John McCoy/Staff)

Thomas Welsh (40) celebrates with Norman Powell (4) and Bryce Alford as UCLA defeated USC 85-74 on March 4, 2015. The teams could face each other again in Las Vegas. (John McCoy/Staff)

UCLA finished its regular season on Wednesday with a win over USC, leaving the Bruins with nearly eight days until their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament.

They now know who they’ll likely face next Thursday at 2:40 p.m. Arizona State clinched the No. 5 seed today when it beat Cal and Stanford lost to Arizona. That matches the Sun Devils up against the 12th-seeded Trojans on Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena; the winner will advance to face No. 4-seeded UCLA.

USC only has five conference wins in two seasons under Andy Enfield, none of which have come against their crosstown rival. ASU beat the Bruins in their only meeting this year, taking a 68-66 decision in Tempe.

If UCLA wins that Thursday game, it will almost certainly draw No. 1 seed Arizona in the semifinals — assuming that the Wildcats dispatch either Cal or Washington State. An upset by the Bruins to reach the Pac-12 title game would move the team off the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Here’s the full Pac-12 Tournament schedule: Continue reading

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How is the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament field shaping up?

p12 tourney

The Pac-12 Tournament is a little more than a week away, so it’s a good time to look at how the bracket will shake out heading into the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Below are the current conference standings, along with each team’s outlook and remaining schedule (plus kenpom.com win probabilities). The tie-breaking rules are here, if anyone wants to figure out all the possible scenarios in the Pac-12’s weird, muddled middle.

1. Arizona (14-2) — 3/5 vs. Cal (97%), 3/7 vs. Stanford (92%)
Arizona has already clinched the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

2. Utah (12-4) — 3/5 at Washington State (91%), 3/7 at Washington (86%)
Utah’s chance at a regular-season title slipped away when it lost to the Wildcats last Saturday. The Utes remain a strong bet to finish second barring an unthinkable collapse on its final road trip.

3. Oregon (12-5) — 3/4 at Oregon State (55%)
The Ducks have clinched at least third, and still have a chance to steal the No. 2-seed away from Utah. If they finish with the same record, Oregon holds the head-to-head tiebreaker due to its 69-58 upset of the Utes on Feb. 22.

4. UCLA (10-7) — 3/4 vs. USC (87%)
Even if the Bruins somehow implode in their regular-season finale, they will likely remain in fourth place due to their head-to-head tiebreaker against Stanford.

5. Stanford (9-7) — 3/5 at ASU (43%), 3/7 at Arizona (8%)
Even if Stanford wins out, it wouldn’t move up in the standings unless UCLA also loses to USC. If the Cardinal split their Arizona trip, they will stand alone in fifth. If they lose out, a few tiebreaker scenarios would emerge. Continue reading

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UCLA to wear colorblock alternate uniforms in Pac-12 Tournament

UCLA's new postseason alternate uniforms, which are far from the worse thing the Bruins have ever worn. (adidas)

UCLA’s new postseason alternate uniforms, which are far from the worst thing the Bruins have ever worn. (adidas)

After the Great Zubaz Scandal of 2013, the standard for shock and awe and disgust has already been set for the world of UCLA alternate uniforms. We have seen the future, and it nearly blinded us.

So here is the newest UCLA alternate uniform, colorblocked according to the latest fashion trends. It will be worn briefly during the Pac-12 Tournament in two weeks, then stored away as all UCLA alternates always are. Adidas will tout the “lightweight, sweat-wicking technology” and “targeted ventilation zones.” When asked, players will respond with appropriate enthusiasm. Some fans will nod politely; others will wring their hands and grit their teeth.

The gyre of sporting couture whirls on.

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Pac-12 Tournament tickets available for $12 on Dec. 12

For fans of numerical repetition — and of basketball, I suppose — the Pac-12 has the sale for you.

The conference announced today that tickets for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena will go on sale for $12 on Friday, Dec. 12. A limited number of those will be available for 12 hours (duh!) starting from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT., or as long as the supply lasts.

You can buy these at Ticketmaster using the promo code PAC1212. These are per-session tickets, which means you’ll need to buy six if you want to watch every single game. All-tournament passes also go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The Las Vegas tournament starts on March 11 and ends March 14. The same deal is available for Pac-12 women’s basketball, which will hold its competition at Seattle’s Key Arena on March 5-8.

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