Pac-12 Power Rankings — 3/7/13

1. Oregon (23-6, 12-4) — The Ducks are the best team in the Pac-12 as long as Dominic Artis is healthy, but he only saw 12 minutes in a win at Oregon State. Oregon should get its first conference title since 2002 if its point guard’s foot injury is no longer a problem. Damyean Dotson also has a hip injury, but is expected to play.

2. Cal (20-10, 12-6) — Cal’s defense had held locked down opponents to 33.7 percent shooting through a seven-win streak, but couldn’t stop Stanford in their season finale. Allen Crabbe and the Cardinal’s Dwight Powell also started a scuffle that ended with the ejection of two players and three assistant coaches — including Mark Madsen.

3. UCLA (22-8, 12-5) — The Bruins lost to Washington State for the first time in 20 years. Washington State was missing its second- and third-leading scorers. Oh, and UCLA forward Travis Wear re-aggravated his sprained right ankle. A share of the Pac-12 title is within reach if Oregon loses, but what an awful night for this team. Continue reading

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Well, it happened. UCLA lost 73-61 to Washington State, the Bruins’ first loss in Pullman since February 1993. Six of the 15 players who received minutes in the game weren’t even born then. The Cougars broke a nine-game losing streak despite not having its No. 2 and 3 starters — guards Mike Ladd (thumb knee) and DaVonte Lacy (knee) — who combine for over 20 points and nearly nine rebounds. Continue reading

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UCLA at WSU: Halftime update

The night couldn’t have started worse for No. 23 UCLA, which is lucky to be down just 35-24 to Washington State at halftime.

The Bruins opened the game 1 of 10 from the field while playing some porous defense against the conference’s worst team. WSU used a matchup zone to keep UCLA from getting its second field goal until almost 10 minutes had elapsed. Even without its No. 2 and No. 3 scorers — Mike Ladd (thumb knee) and DaVonte Lacy (knee) — the Cougars ran out a 25-4 lead with eight minutes to go. Continue reading

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UCLA at WSU: What to Watch

UCLA (22-7, 12-4) at Washington State (11-18, 2-14)
6:30 p.m., Beasley Coliseum
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570

At a glance: A loss in Pullman would be inexcusable for a conference contender. Washington State hasn’t beaten UCLA in Pullman since February 1993, seven months before any of the Bruins’ four freshmen were born.

WSU has lost nine straight games, and 11 of its past 12. No other team in the conference has lost more than five in a row all season. The Cougars aren’t trending up either. Since one-point losses at home to both Oregon and Oregon State, they’ve lost their last three by an average of 11 points — allowing opponents to shoot 52.9 percent from the field over that stretch. Most comically, they’ve had 14.3 percent of their shots blocked, the worst mark in the country. Continue reading

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UCLA 76, Washington State 62: Quotes and notes

The final score was 76-62, but UCLA’s win over Washington State felt far more out of reach than the final tally. It was likely the Bruins’ easiest win since beating Long Beach State 89-70 on Dec. 18. Washington State came out firing and made five straight 3-pointers to open the game, but over nine minutes without a field goal at Pauley Pavilion. In that span, the home team opened up a opened up a 15-point lead that never fell into single digits.

UCLA shot at least 60 percent from the field for the first time since Feb. 18, 2010 — another win over Washington State — and above 50 percent for the first time at home this season against a conference opponent.

Despite that embarrassing loss to USC last week, the team still sits just one game out of first place in the Pac-12.

– Facing a team that tried to slow the pace of the game, UCLA ended up with its highest assist total since defeating Fresno State in December. The Bruins notched 22 assists on 31 field goals, generating much better looks at the basket than the forced shots that went up against Washington on Thursday night. Continue reading

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UCLA vs. WSU: Halftime update

Looks like the UCLA offense may have finally woken up.

After three straight games shooting below 40 percent, the Bruins are humming along against Washington State. A 39-24 halftime lead almost feels too narrow given how terrible the Cougars looked through the first 20 minutes, which saw them go without a field goal for over nine minutes. WSU opened the game with three straight 3-pointers, but ended up shooting just 34.8 percent in the first half.

UCLA has also forced two shot clock violations, scoring 11 points off Washington State’s 11 turnovers. The Bruins are shooting 58.6 percent from the field, have assisted on all but three of their 17 baskets, and hold a 20-4 scoring edge in the paint. Meanwhile, Cougars center Brock Motum — the team’s leading scorer at 18.2 points per game — has four points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Shabazz Muhammad has a game-high 12 points, as well as two rebounds and two assists.

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UCLA vs. WSU: What to Watch

Washington State (11-12, 2-8)
7 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks, AM 570

At a glance: Can UCLA’s offense get rolling again?

Twice in the last three games, the Bruins’ field goal attempts have outnumbered their point totals. Still first in the Pac-12 in points per game on the season, UCLA drops to fifth once you cut out the nonconference schedule. Their 69.7 average against league opponents trails USC and Stanford, both of whom are just 5-5 in the Pac-12.

“We need to do a better job taking good shots and being more selective,” head coach Ben Howland said.

The Cougars, who haven’t had a winning conference record since 2008, offer the Bruins a chance to get back on track. Washington State is one of the slowest teams in the conference, and will need to dictate the pace at Pauley Pavilion if it wants its third win of the calendar year. Continue reading

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