April 17, 2008

UCLA's Love, KU Duo Ready For NBA

It's what we all expected but what UCLA fans were hoping wouldn't come true when the 2007-08 season came to an end.

Yes, Kevin Love is headed to the NBA.

With UCLA coach Ben Howland and Love's father, Stan Love, along side him, the freshman forward formally announced his decision Thursday afternoon at a campus news conference, choosing to skip his final three college seasons and enter this June's draft as a potential lottery pick, according to several NBA scouts.

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April 10, 2008

Self Sticking To Lawrence

When there first came word of Oklahoma State offering Kansas' Bill Self the head coaching job at his alma mater, there was plenty of gossip going around the media in San Antonio before the Jayhawks ultimately claimed the national championship one day later over Memphis.

And while that buzz continued for a couple days as Self and his team returned home to Lawrence, Kansas fans don't have to worry now about their coach hightailing it to Stillwater, Okla.

That's because on Thursday the national championship-winning coach announced that he won't be leaving the Jayhawks after spending much of the day meeting with athletic director Lew Perkins.

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April 01, 2008

Lopez Twins Heading To NBA

Stanford coach Trent Johnson only got them for two years, but for Brook and Robin Lopez, that was long enough.

The 7-foot twins will be heading to the NBA this June after announcing Monday that they'll be entering this year's draft following successful sophomore campaigns.

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February 18, 2008

Bruins Hold The Mayo On USC

Losing to Washington last weekend in Seattle gave UCLA a little more perspective on the parity that's developed in the Pac-10.

But coming into a new week with an important Sunday showdown with cross-town rival USC, Ben Howland's players remembered the way the Trojans embarrassed them on their home court last month.

So with a chance to redeem themselves and retake sole possession of first place in the Pac-10, No. 6 UCLA stepped foot in The Galen Center and silenced a raucous USC crowd with a 54-44 victory to retake sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.

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January 25, 2008

So Much To Love

Kevin Love knew that it wasn't going to be easy returning home to play in his old stopping grounds.

And the Lake Oswego, Ore., native knew that it was going to be even tougher playing against his father's alma mater with friends and family looking on.

But after the way the 6-foot-10 forward played in UCLA's 80-75 victory over Oregon Thursday night, what's not to love about Love now?

Because with a game-high 26 points and 18 rebounds, is there anyone in the country who could play better than that under those circumstances?

I think not.

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January 10, 2008

Howland's D Had Love Hooked

Kevin Love said he chose UCLA because he wanted to learn how to play defense.

But not just any kind of defense.

That's right. He wanted to play Ben Howland's defense.

Sure, the Lake Oswego, Ore., native could have traveled across the country to play at ACC powerhouse and top-ranked North Carolina, but when it came down to it, he wanted to learn from a coach that has proven he can get it done whether he's in the Big West at UC Santa Barbara, Big Sky at Northern Arizona or Big East at Pittsburgh.

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December 18, 2007

In O'Neill They Trust

Kevin O'Neill doesn't have to worry about what his next coaching job will be.

And he doesn't have to worry about leaving Tucson, Ariz., either since coming over from the Toronto Raptors seven months ago to join Hall of Famer Lute Olson as his top assistant at Arizona.

Not after Tuesday's announcement from athletic director Jim Livengood, who declared that O'Neill will serve as Olson's successor when the 73-year-old coach finally retires from the bench.

"It's an unbelievable honor to follow Lute Olson," O'Neill said. "I'm thrilled to get the opportunity and will work to continue the superb tradition of Arizona basketball when Lute is done."

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December 07, 2007

Olson Divorce Papers Filed

The Tucson Citizen is reporting that Arizona coach Lute Olson (or his wife, Christine Toretti Olson) have begun divorce proceedings. On Thursday, Olson announced he would not coach this season, after missing the first month for the 5-2 Wildcats.

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December 05, 2007

Ugly Ready

NEW YORK -- It was a full hour after the 45th minute of a game where the two teams had combined to miss 89 shots, meaning that for every minute of game time, two shots went errant, array and wayward. There had been a full hour to digest the 43 combined turnovers, the horrible shot selections (Hello, Mr. Mayo) and the missed opportunities that came in the filthfest at Madison Square Garden where No. 2 Memphis downed No. 24 USC, 62-58, in overtime.

Even with those 60 minutes to let it settle in, Joey Dorsey and Chris Douglas-Roberts couldn't stop shaking their heads in the Memphis locker room.

"Did you see that triangle and two?" asked Douglas-Robert to a post-game visitor. "What was up with that, yo?"

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December 02, 2007

Sunday Wasn't Too Sunny For SoCal

LOS ANGELES -- So you know all that talk about how the Pac-10 is supposedly the best conference in the country?

Well, the Big 12 has something to say about that now.

At least No. 8 Texas does after stunning No. 2 UCLA with a 63-61 victory Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion in what looked like a NCAA Tournament game on the second day of December.

"I'm happy how we handled the big-time atmosphere," Texas coach Rick Barnes offered after seeing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute miss a game-winning three from the right wing at the buzzer. "We play in a conference like UCLA, so we were ready for this type of atmosphere."

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November 25, 2007

Three Thoughts On Zona-KU

I'm getting a chance to sit and watch Arizona take on No. 4 Kansas at Phogg Allen Fieldhouse in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series, and there's a few things I'm learning while this game unfolds.

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November 21, 2007

Nice Try Coach Izzo

Oh Coach Izzo, you thought you were so smart. You thought you were so clever.

You thought when UCLA took a timeout with 35 seconds remaining Tuesday night and the score knotted at 63-63 that your 2-3 zone -- after playing man-to-man the entire night -- would confuse the Bruins, that it would disrupt their offensive flow and force someone to score other than Kevin Love.

And you thought you had them when UCLA inbounded the ball, saw the zone and failed to penetrate it as Love struggled to find positioning on the block.

Then suddenly, your grand defensive scheme got burned to pieces.

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November 17, 2007

Mayo's Thunder Stolen

You all know about O.J. Mayo's little skirmish with Daniel Hackett, right?

You know, how Mayo supposedly elbowed Hackett "accidentally" during a pickup game back in September?

Or was it that Mayo and Hackett really got into a fist fight?

Whatever the story really was, one thing Mayo should know is that he'll desperately need Hackett's help if the Trojans hope to compete in the best conference in the country this year.

And in a game where 16 NBA scouts filled the seats to see Mayo, it was really Hackett who stole the show Saturday night in Columbia, S.C., as the sophomore guard recorded his first triple-double on 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a big 85-75 win over South Carolina.

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November 10, 2007

Hold The Mayo...

This wasn't what O.J. Mayo was expecting when he called Tim Floyd last year and told the USC coach that he wanted to be a Trojan.

And it certainly wasn't what Floyd had in mind in bringing in the nation's No. 1 recruit from the Class of 2007.

But for as well as Mayo played in his college debut Saturday against Mercer, it was a bittersweet finish for the freshman phenom.

While Mayo impressed with a game-high 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, it was Mercer in the end who shocked No. 18 USC in its season opener with a 96-81 upset at the Galen Center.

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November 09, 2007

Duke, Stanford Hit Century Mark

While the surprise of Gardner-Webb has got a lot of people anticipating next Thursday's semifinals of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic, Friday marked the start of the season for many teams.

Two teams in particular, No. 13 Duke and No. 23 Stanford, stood out from the rest, as the Blue Devils and Cardinal hit the 100-point mark in both their games.

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November 01, 2007

A Whole Lot Of Love

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Ben Howland didn't seem to mind talking about freshman center Kevin Love, who is considered by many to be the top recruit in the country.

When asked what Love would do for the offense, he smiled and said, "Well there will be more post feeds for sure," and also said Love should open things up for players on the perimeter and said he's shown already he will command the double team and isn't afraid to "kick it back out."

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Conference Showdown Comes To West Coast

LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-10 and Big 12 announced the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, which features 12 games every season between the conferences for the next four years.

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Foundation Building For Wazzu

LOS ANGELES -- Washington State was picked second in the Pac-10 Conference preseason media poll but Coach Tony Bennett first heard about another poll earlier this summer.

"A friend called and told me we were picked seventh and I thought, OK, well we were 10th in the conference last year so we have moved up a little bit," Bennett said. "Then he told me, 'No, you were picked seventh in the country."

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Pond Is Deep For Ducks

LOS ANGELES -- There might be a few teams in the Pac-10 concerned about experience, but it's not a concern for Oregon coach Ernie Kent, who has five seniors including Malik Hairston, who graduated in three years, and talented shooting guard Bryce Taylor.

"As he goes, we will go," Kent said of Hairston.

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Floyd Has Been Here But Not With OJ

LOS ANGELES -- USC has no seniors and just three juniors on its roster which could make some coaches very nervous and likely explains why the Trojans were picked sixth in the Pac-10 Conference preseason media poll. Coach Tim Floyd even admitted his past experiences with young teams weren't the best -- citing a young team at Iowa State in his last year and a team at UTEP, which both didn't do so well.

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No Secrets In Southern California

LOS ANGELES -- Players like Miles Simon, Hassan Adams and Gilbert Arenas left the Los Angeles area to play at Arizona, but Coach Lute Olson admitted it has gotten much more difficult to lock down the top players in the most important recruiting area for the Pac-10 Conference since UCLA and USC have found strong recruiters in Ben Howland and Tim Floyd.

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Stanford's Washington Unappreciated

LOS ANGELES -- Stanford senior Fred Washington might not have the name recognition of other top-notch Pac-10 Conference seniors but the 6-foot-5 forward has the respect of his coach, Trent Johnson, who called him one of the most underappreciated players in the league.

Thumbs Down

LOS ANGELES -- Most media days are light affairs with a couple chuckles and a few yawns from the bored reporters in the audience. This year's Pac-10 Media Day isn't much different as most coaches are fielding just a few questions and the large ballroom isn't even half-full this morning.

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Healing and Growing

LOS ANGELES -- There's a date on California coach Ben Braun's calendar and it could be seen as an early Christmas gift.

Jamal Boykin, a former Parade All-American from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, will be eligible to play for the Bears on Dec. 21. Boykin transferred to Berkeley after starting his college career at Duke.

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John On The Hot Seat

LOS ANGELES -- Oregon State coach Jay John could have a rough season. If it's not bad enough his team was picked last in the Pac-10 Conference preseason media poll, he is also the coach under the most pressure to win in the conference.

The Beavers have had just one winning season (2004-05) this decade and haven't made the NCAA Tournament since the 1989-90 season. Last year, Oregon State went 11-21 overall and won just three games in conference.

Side Stepping

LOS ANGELES -- Arizona State men's basketball coach Herb Sendek kicked off the Pac-10 men's basketball media day at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport with a bit of a snafu.

Sendek started his talk at a secondary podium, placed on one side of the room before a Pac-10 official stopped him and pushed him to the main podium.

"With our record last year, I thought that was where I was supposed to stand," Sendek said while pointing to the secondary podium.

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October 13, 2007

SoCal Pipeline Starting To Run Through USC

LOS ANGELES -- Tim Floyd is changing the culture of recruiting in Los Angeles, traditionally a hotbed of prep basketball stars. Where UCLA used to keep a lot of the local talent and coaches like Roy Williams would poach elite west coast prospects to play at Kansas and North Carolina, a lot of the Southern California talent is looking at USC now. Demar Derozan, the top-ranked small forward in the 2008 class and a USC commit, is a good example.

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Mayo Addresses Rumor Mill

LOS ANGELES -- After the scrimmage ended on the court, the real show started in the locker room when the subject of Daniel Hackett's broken jaw came up. Hackett reportedly suffered the injury during a pick-up game from an errant elbow thrown by Mayo, but rumors have circulated that the elbow was malicious.

"I haven't heard that," Mayo said. "I don't understand these rumors. What does Bill Walker have to do with an accidental elbow?"

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Plenty of Points In USC Scrimmage

LOS ANGELES -- The men's scrimmage looked about how you'd expect a Midnight Madness game to look -- somewhere between the Harlem Globetrotters and an And 1 mixed tape. There were a lot of ridiculous shots, uncontested dunks and not much defense.

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USC Scrimmage Set To Start

LOS ANGELES -- The fans are about to get their first taste of the 2007 hoops team -- even if it is an intra-squad scrimmage. Let's hope it's more entertaining than the women's scrimmage, which evidently wasn't planned too well. The white team was heavily outmatched by a cardinal team that pulled out a 33-15 win in 10 minutes of play.

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Master P Is In The House

LOS ANGELES -- Master P just took the floor -- no doubt here in support of his son Percy "Lil Romeo" Miller who is slated to join the USC hoops team in 2008. USC, the home of celeb fans Snoop Dogg and Will Ferrell, has a new member in the celebrity support club.

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Elite 2010 Prospect High On USC

LOS ANGELES -- As the Midnight Madness contest shenanigans continued, I was able to catch up with Jeremy Tyler, a 2010 power forward who looks like a Top 10 prospect in his class. And he sounds real high on USC. The Southern California native, who once lived in Los Angeles and now resides in San Diego, had a lot of good things to say about USC.

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O.J. Has Arrived

LOS ANGELES -- No, not that O.J. I don't think he's welcome at USC anymore. But after about an hour of giveaways, old-school NBA bloopers on the big screen and promotional contests, the fans got what they wanted when Head Coach Tim Floyd introduced his 2007 team freshly equipped with point guard extraordinaire O.J. Mayo and the rest of the top-ranked freshman class in the country.

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This Really Needs Some Work

LOS ANGELES -- So far, I'm calling lame on USC's Midnight Madness performance. We're about 20 minutes in, and they've thrown candy into the crowd, given away random seat prizes and now we're watching fans compete in a video game 3-point shooting contest on the scoreboard. Yes...thousands of people are watching people play video games on the big screen.

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October 12, 2007

Identity Crisis At USC?

LOS ANGELES -- So is USC a basketball school now? After raining boos down on the L.A. Coliseum following the football team's shocking loss to Stanford last week, the Trojan faithful are surely ready for some good news.

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October 05, 2007

Lopez Ruled Ineligible

This wasn't exactly what Trent Johnson had in mind just four weeks before the 2007-08 season begins.

But the Stanford coach was coming to terms Friday with the fact that forward Brook Lopez has been ruled academically ineligible for the fall quarter.

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October 04, 2007

Giving Back

Taylor Rochestie isn't what you would call your typical college basketball player.

In fact, he isn't your everyday person either.

But the Washington State guard made it official on Thursday that he's giving up his scholarship for his senior season in 2008-09 in order to clear up more financial room for future recruits coming to Pullman.

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October 03, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

It's a family affair at San Diego State these days.

That's because father and son will both be working the sidelines when the Aztecs open their season Nov. 9 in Fresno, Calif. at the World Vision Classic against Liberty.

On Wednesday, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher named his son Mark as his new assistant coach after serving as the team's Director of Operations for the last five seasons.

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September 30, 2007

USC's Hackett Gets Hacked

Say what you will about Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt -- and yes, they were very good college players -- but a lot of people forget the importance that Daniel Hackett played in USC's run to the Sweet 16 last season.

The sophomore point guard started 16 games in 2006-07, averaging 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds, and while those numbers might not make your eyes open wide, he broke through in the NCAA Tournament, scoring a career-high 20 points and helping contain Naismith Player of the Year Kevin Durant in USC's second-round victory over fourth-seeded Texas.

And coming into the 2007-08 season, Hackett was expected to start after spending the summer playing for the Italian under-20 national team.

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August 31, 2007

Back To Palo Alto

Mike Montgomery is going back to college. This time, though, he won't be pacing up and down the sidelines, barking orders at his players and arguing with referees over fouls called.

The four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, instead, is headed back to Stanford, where he'll take over as an assistant to the athletic director starting Sept. 4.

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August 20, 2007

'Zona's 10-Year Reunion

Over the weekend, Lute Olson got to enjoy a couple days reminiscing with a few of his former students about some fond memories in Arizona basketball history. Guys like Gilbert Arenas, Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Jason Terry and Mike Bibby all came back to Tucson to celebrate the 10-year reunion of Arizona's 1997 national championship team with a golf outing Saturday and charity basketball event Sunday.

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March 10, 2007

Pac-10: Fear the Ducks

The nets are down, the Staples Center signage is being scavenged and Pac-10 champion Oregon has made a big proclamation for the NCAA Tournament field. If you see the Ducks on your side of the NCAA bracket, be afraid.

When they ran all over a hit-and-miss Arizona team on Thursday, I figured they played well, but caught the Wildcats on one of their many down nights. When they did the same thing to a hot Cal team on Friday, I chalked it up to another good performance, but 8th-seeded Cal had finally come down to earth. But after today's drubbing of a very good USC team that seemed to be on just as good of a roll -- a game in which Oregon actually doubled the Trojans' score late in the second half -- it's quite clear that Oregon is a team to be respected and feared when the NCAA Tournament kicks off next Thursday.

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Pac-10: Taylor Stays Perfect... Game Over

The scrubs are in and Bryce Taylor is on the Oregon Bench. His final line reads 11-of-11 from the field, 7-of-7 from behind the arc and 3-of-3 from the line for 32 points.

Ok -- now it's over. Oregon is your new Pac-10 champion -- by a long shot. The Ducks hit 55 percent of their field goals, including an astounding 14-of-29 from behind the line for an 81-57 win. And I've got a pretty good idea who the MVP's going to be.

Pac-10: Bryce Taylor Update

11-for-11 from the field... 7-for-7 from behind the arc... 1-for-1 from the free throw line... 30 points. WOW
Oregon leads 76-39.

Pac-10: Mercy... Please

They may be outnumbered, but the Oregon faithful have plenty to cheer about. Already holding a significant lead, the Ducks just went on a 22-2 run to take a commanding 67-32 lead. While Oregon's playing great, something is very wrong with USC.

A team that's played smart aggressive basketball all week is all of the sudden in panic mode, taking bad shots and forcing bad passes. As a result, they're shooting 29 percent from the field and allowing easy buckets for the Ducks, who are hitting on a 62-percent clip. Bryce Taylor is starting to enter ridiculous territory. He's now scored 24 points on a perfect 9-of-9 rate from the field, including five 3-pointers.

Pac-10: Hot or Not -- Part II

We're a few minutes into the second half and things are only getting better for Oregon. The Ducks have quickly extended their 13-point halftime lead to 47-30. And if you're wondering how...

Scorching Hot: Oregon's Bryce Taylor -- He's 7-for-7, including 4-for-4 from behind the arc to lead the game with 19 points.

Definitely Not: USC's Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young -- The stars from USC's first two games this week are a combined 3-for-16 with 11 points. If USC is going to pretend to get back into this one, at least one of these guys is going to have to step up.

Pac-10: Five More Years in L.A.

Not to harp on the USC crowd at the Staples Center, but seeing all the Trojan fans coupled with the announcement that the Pac-10 championship will be played here for five more years has got me thinking. Why is nobody complaining?

Gary Williams moaned and groaned for years about the ACC Tournament always being in Greensboro and Charlotte and they finally started moving it out of North Carolina. It's in Tampa this year -- which makes so much geographical sense for all the ACC schools.

In the Mountain West, former Utah coach Rick Majerus couldn't stand the fact that UNLV got home games for the MWC every year. So they moved it to Denver. Of course Majerus left and nobody showed up to the mile-high city, so now its back in Vegas. And as I hear from my good friend and CSTV MWC managing editor Tom Chee, the Thomas and Mack Center has been rocking all week.

Anyhow -- back to my point. If I were Arizona coach Lute Olson or Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, I'd be yelling and screaming about this announcement. Of course, if it were up to Olson, this tournament wouldn't exist in the first place.

As for the game itself, Oregon is still in control with a 37-24 halftime lead. So maybe the home court advantage really doesn't matter.

Pac-10: So Quiet...

Oregon has completely taken the crowd out of this game. With less than a minute left in the first half and the Ducks holding a 35-22 lead, the only noise to be heard from this largly pro-Trojan crowd comes from the USC band and the Song Girls. And they have to make noise... Oh- as I was typing, Oregon guard Tajuan Porter got fouled on a 3-point attempt. He hit two of them. That's not going to help this crowd.

Pac-10: Young Sighting

With about four minutes left in the first half, Nick Young finally got on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer. USC's going to need a lot more where that came from as Oregon is turning this one into a potential laugher with a 32-18 lead at the 3:27 mark. Here's guessing USC mounts a rally.

Pac-10: Hot or Not

Who's hot: Oregon guard Aaron Brooks. The Ducks star has nine points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field.

Who's not: USC star Nick Young. Young has yet to find the bottom of the net in three attempts as his Trojans have dug a 21-13 hole. He's not getting much help from his teammates as USC's 30 percent shooting rate has prompted Tim Floyd to call another timeout.

Pac-10: Tim Floyd Looks Stressed

Since falling behind 7-4 early, Oregon has rolled off a 13-2 run to take a 17-9 lead about 10 minutes into the game. To make matters worse for USC, guard Gabe Pruitt just clanged a dunk off the back of the rim. Needless to say, USC coach Tim Floyd called for a timeout.

Pac-10: USC Takes 'Neutral' Court

The USC band just played the national anthem and the Trojans have taken the court today's Pac-10 championship game ; there's no doubt on this 'neutral' court, the hometown team has a big advantage in the crowd. There's a lot of maroon and gold in the stands...

As for celebrity sightings, I haven't seen him in the arena, but I'm pretty sure I drove to the Staples Center today behind Lakers owner Jerry Buss. I saw an old white guy sitting in a new black Rolls Royce with a license plate reading '9XWRLDCMP', by the time I got to the gate, the car was sitting in the walkway about 20 feet away from the front door. I'm guessing he's tucked away in one of the 100-plus luxury boxes.

Anyhow... we're underway now and USC has an early 7-4 lead.

Pac-10: Bringin' it Down in L.A.

After a Thursday session that epitomized everything that makes March great, Friday at the Staples Center brought things down a notch. Not that the basketball was bad today -- it's just tough to top back-to-back overtime games with both hometown teams involved.

That said, one thing is clear from the last three days. Oregon and USC - while not necessarily the best teams in the West -- are certainly playing the best basketball right now. And right now is when it counts.

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Pac-10: Bring on the Ducks -- Trojans Win

After UCLA choked in its first game, USC has done its part to keep the hometown crowd interested in the Pac-10 Tournament. With Gabe Pruitt and his 26 points leading the way, the Trojans more than made up for getting swept by Washington State during the regular season with a 70-61 victory in Friday's conference semifinal.

The win sets up a Saturday championship matchup with Oregon and, perhaps more importantly, brings back the Song Girls for one more appearance at the Staples Center.

Pac-10: Missed Opportunities

With USC leading 60-55, Wazzu big man Aron Baynes missed two point-blank layups with a chance to bring the Cougars within three. Since then, the Cougars haven't seen a good look and the Trojans lead 63-55 with less than a minute remaining. Is a Ducks-Trojans championship game on the horizon?

Pac-10: Gabe Pruitt is a Bad Bad Man

The USC sharpshooter hasn't slowed down from his 15-point first half. Pruitt just hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night to total 23 points and give the Trojans a 56-46 edge with just under nine minutes to go.

Pac-10: I Just Don't Get It

I get school spirit and I can understand booing the other team, but some fans actually booed USC's Song Girls during their halftime show. How can you ever boo the Song Girls? I'll never understand.

And yes, in case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a big fan of the Song Girls.

Pac-10: Pressure Player

Talk about pressure... with $19,000 riding on each free throw, a fan hit 4-of-4 shots from the line at halftime to win $76,000 in a promotion. I can think of several college hoopsters (UCLA's Lorenzo Mata is the first to come to mind) who could take some pointers from this guy. I don't know what would be more pressure packed -- that kind of cash on the line or a late-game situation in a tournament game -- but our halftime hero is definitely a clutch player.

Pac-10: Momentum Shift

Just when it looked like USC was taking control, Washington State came back swinging. After the Trojans opened a 36-25 lead, the Cougars went on a 9-2 run to close the half, capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Derrick Low to cut the halftime deficit to 38-34. With a tight game and a good crowd, the Staples Center is not falling asleep on the night cap tonight.

Pac-10: No Fatigue Here

USC is showing no ill effects from yesterday's overtime win. With about five minutes left in the first half, the Trojans have opened up a 34-25 lead over Washington State. Gabe Pruitt, who sealed Thursday's win with a steal and transition layup, is dominating the perimeter with 15 points, including 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.

Pac-10: No Love for SC

While there are plenty of USC supporters here, it's become increasingly clear to me over the last couple of days that USC is by far the most hated program in the Pac-10. Nothing gets as visceral a reaction as when anything USC -- fans, band members or karaoke singers (see earlier blog entries) -- is shown on the big board. It's very similar to the reaction Duke would get when I grew up watching and going to the ACC Tournament in Charlotte and Greensboro.

Something tells me the hatred has a lot more to do with Pete Carroll than Tim Floyd's hoops squad, but it translates well to a conference tourney environment.

March 09, 2007

Pac-10: Tired Legs for Trojans?

Cal struggled mightily in the early game after coming off an intense overtime win on Thursday. Now USC looks to avoid the same fate as they've tipped off against Washington State for the right to face Oregon in Saturday's championship game.

That said, USC is a considerably better team than Cal and USC didn't have to play on Wednesday, as the Bears did. And the Trojans look plenty energetic so far with the game tied at 6-6 about four minutes in. Only time will tell.

Pac-10: Ducks Too Strong

Cal made a valiant run during the first two days of the Pac-10 Tournament but couldn't muster enough energy in tonight's 81-63 Oregon win. Malik Hairston and Tajuan Porter were just too much, combining for 45 points on 18-of-25 shooting. The Ducks as a whole shot 63 percent from the field... part of it excellent shooting on their part, but the Bears' tired legs just couldn't keep up with them.

Pac-10: Okay... I'm Calling it

There's no way Cal proves me wrong at this point. With 1:24 left and Oregon leading 79-63, the Staples Center crowd loudly booed Cal's decision to take a timeout... and further delay USC from taking the court. The Ducks can go ahead and start prepping for the winner of tonight's USC-Washington State matchup.

Pac-10: Oregon in Control

Cal worked its way back into the game, but at the final media timeout, the Ducks have padded their lead back up to 71-56. Malik Hairston has taken control, scoring 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Since Cal scared me last time I declared them dead, I'm not calling this game again, but...

Pac-10: This is why I don't Bet Sports... Bears Charging Back

Since I declared Cal dead, they've come out with a new-found energy in the second half. That 44-23 deficit from halftime... cut down to seven as the Ducks lead 49-42 with about 12 minutes to go. Theo Robertson is leading the charge with 13 total points, eight so far in the second half.

Oregon, meanwhile, is 2-for-6 after shooting an astonishing 69 percent from the field in the first half. More to come from the Staples Center.

Pac-10: Wandering Eyes

All right -- it's halftime and Oregon has a 44-23 lead so I'm finding myself scanning the crowd a little more than usual. And I can't help but wonder... this is Los Angeles -- where are the celebrities?

Now I don't want to run a star watch from the sideline. Little makes me angrier than logging on to a supposedly legitimate news site and finding Britney Spears headlines above news that actually matters, but I'm bored and a bit taken aback. Maybe they'll show up for the USC game.

So to go ahead and put the legitimate news below the star watch, here's a halftime update from the box score I just picked up. Tajuan Porter has the hot hand for Oregon. He's shooting 4-of-5 from the field with three 3-pointers to lead the Ducks with 12 points. They're spreading the ball around nicely though, with four players scoring seven points or more.

Cal, meanwhile, has zero players with seven points or more. Ryan Anderson leads the way with six points while yesterday's star from the UCLA game Ayinde Ubaka has two points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Pac-10: Bears Running on Empty

After two straight days of basketball, one of them an intense overtime battle with UCLA, it looks like Cal is out of gas. Oregon is scoring at will, Ayinde Ubaka just hurled up his second straight air ball and the Bears have dug a 34-16 hole. I know it's still the first half, and yes, it's March, but I'm about ready to call this one for Oregon.

Pac-10: Well Played, Aaron Brooks, Well Played

As if on cue, Aaron Brooks drilled a 3-pointer as soon as I pointed out that he hadn't scored. Oregon 25, Cal 12.

Pac-10: Ducks Flying High

So much for Oregon looking past Cal. The Ducks have gotten off to a scorching start and hold a 22-12 edge at the 11:31 mark. They've hit 9-of-12 shots from the field and 4-of-5 3-pointers. And shockingly, star guard Aaron Brooks has not scored. He hasn't even taken a shot. If the Ducks are playing this well without getting Brooks into the game, it could be a long night for Cal.

Pac-10: Friday Night Lights

It's a late start to the day for the Pac-10 semifinals as Oregon and Cal are about 10 minutes away from tipping off in prime time. So far the stands are far from full, but then again, this is Los Angeles -- and USC doesn't tip off for at least three hours.

The Ducks have to be happy about the prospect of facing No. 8 seed Cal tonight instead of UCLA, but if they get complacent or overlook the Golden Bears, it's going to spell trouble. During the first two days of the tournament, I've been impressed the most by Cal and their sudden stars Ayinde Ubaka and Ryan Anderson. And though head coach Ben Braun has more than likely put a moratorium on NCAA Tournament talk, the Bears have to be smelling it being two wins away.

Pac-10: It's Over...

...the Washington-Washington State game (which Washington State won 74-64), the mascots fiddling with my munchy food and a long but outstanding day of Pac-10 basketball.

Now I'm not saying that I didn't have a good time today -- not by a long shot -- but the Washington State band is celebrating good times (come on!) right now and I'm celebrating right along with them that there's not another game tonight.

With that said, there's another exciting day of basketball on the docket tomorrow that will hopefully match the intensity in the Staples Center today. But before we move on to Friday's action, I would like to thank following:

Continue reading "Pac-10: It's Over..." »

Pac-10: That's Not What the Coach Drew Up

With the Cougars holding a 70-64 lead and about 35 seconds left to play, Washington called a timeout. They inbounded the ball to Quincy Pondexter, who immediately traveled, essentially sealing a matchup with USC for Wazzu and a date at the NIT for the Huskies.

Pac-10: Yet Another Close Game

Imagine that. It looks like Washington and Washington State are going to follow suit and go down to the wire like the previous two games during today's Pac-10 Tournament action. And I thought Arizona-Oregon was going to be the best game.

With 3:08 remaining, Wazzu's holding on to a 61-58 lead thanks to a balanced performanced in the box score. Washington has responded with a similar all-around effort, but with crunch time coming on, I expect the Huskies to get the ball down low to Jon Brockman as much as they can.

Pac-10: Sharpshooters

I may be on my last leg, but suprisingly that has no bearing on the action on the court. Washington and Washington State are both playing solid efficient basketball halfway through the second half.

With both teams shooting at 50 percent or better and neither team turning the ball over more than 10 times, you'd think they haven't been playing basketball since noon. Oh wait -- they haven't -- not these teams at least.

So if you're wondering about the stat that counts, Washington State holds a 52-47 edge with about 10 minutes to go. The winner gets USC tomorrow in front of a very pro-USC crowd. The loser goes back to picking apples or drinking coffee -- whatever it is they do in Washington.

Pac-10: Don't Touch my Nuts

So I've got a bowl of mixed nuts I grabbed from media hospitality and while I'm sitting on press row doing my work, the Washington State Cougar decides to walk up and rifle through my snack. He/she/it didn't take many, but I think I'm done. I don't know where those paws have been.

Pac-10: Turn it Up

As soon as I challenged their abilities to put up points, Washington and Washington State both went on scoring tears. They combined for 22 points in the last three-plus minutes to send the game to halftime with the Huskies holding a 36-32 edge.

For Washington, Ryan Appleby found his stroke and finished the half with nine points on 3-for-3 shooting from behind the arc. Wazzu's go-to-guy was Derrick Low, who finished the half with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Could we possibly finish the day with a third straight thriller?

Pac-10: D-D-D Defense

So there's about four minutes left in the first half of the Washington-Washington State game and as expected with a Wazzu game, it's not exactly a barn burner. The Cougars and Huskies sure know how to slow things down, but it is a competitive game with the Huskies holding a 25-21 edge. The crowd's cleared out a good bit, but the Washington and Washington State contingents are strong.

So far, Quincy Pondexter is leading the way for Washington with 10 points while Jon Brockman has seven point and five rebounds.

Pac-10: Don't Tell Stanford it's a Bubble Team

The Stanford press conference was one of the more depressing scenes I've been around in a while. Coming so close to a win that would have more than likely locked up an NCAA Tournament hurt and it showed.

Anthony Goods, who missed two free throws and had his last-second shot in regulation blocked barely answered reporters questions. Coach Trent Johnson spent much of the time exalting his team's resume and justifying why Stanford should get good news on Sunday. And he made some good points. They beat Virginia on the road. They beat UCLA, Oregon, USC, Arizona and both Washington schools. A number of their losses came with key players on the pine with injury. But his last point might be his most telling and damning.

"We had the opportunities to take it out of the judges' hands and we didn't do it," Johnson said. "So shame on us."

March 08, 2007

Pac-10: We Are -- SC

The USC chants are in full effect and so is the Trojan basketball team as it opened up a big early lead, fell behind by halftime and fought back to take Stanford to overtime where it secured an 83-79 win. Nick Young had the biggest performance, logging 26 points including several clutch shots and 9-of-10 free throws to keep the Trojans and the Song Girls alive for at least one more day of Pac-10 play.

All Stanford can do now is wait and see what the selection committee has to say on Sunday. A win today would have certainly helped the Cardinal's cause.

Now, we move on to the night cap where one can only hope the Washington-Washington State rivalry produces a fraction of the intensity that California brought to the table. Evergreen State -- you're up.

Pac-10: Keeps Getting Better

The game is slipping away from Stanford, and so may its NCAA Tournament hopes. In a game that may actually be more exciting than the UCLA-Cal thriller from earlier in the day, Gabe Pruitt just made what looks like the game-clinching play on a steal and layup to give the Trojans a 78-73 lead.

Pac-10: Pressure Cooker

Holding onto a two-point lead, Stanford sent Anthony Goods to the free throw line with 23.7 seconds remaining. He missed both free throws. USC has the ball and a 69-67 deficit. More to come...

Pac-10: Cardinal Sin

With less than 3 minutes remaining USC guard Daniel Hackett gave USC a 65-63 lead, converting a 4-point play after being fouled on a made 3-pointer by Kenny Brown. Stanford didn't stand pat, though, as Landry Fields and Robin Lopez scored on consecutive possesions to take back a 67-65 Stanford lead with about a minute remaining.

Pac-10: Cardinal Sin

With less than 3 minutes remaining USC guard Daniel Hackett gave USC a 65-63 lead, converting a 4-point play after being fouled on a made 3-pointer by Kenny Brown. Stanford didn't stand pat, though, as Landry Fields and Robin Lopez scored on consecutive possesions to take back a 67-65 Stanford lead with about a minute remaining.

Pac-10: Another Nailbiter

These California schools really know how to put on a show. After lulling us to sleep for much of the game, Stanford and USC are doing their best Cal-UCLA impression.

The Trojans have battled back to take a 61-60 lead with 3:53 remaining, the crowd is into it and the USC Song Girls are performing during the break. All is well in the basketball world.

Pac-10: There's the Noise

Ok- after struggling through the end of the first half and beginning of the second, USC has started to rally -- and so have its fans. The Trojans have cut a little bit off the halftime deficit to make it a 58-53 game with 7:23 to go with Nick Young's 18-point effort leading the way. They're still not distributing the ball at a great clip with just six players scoring and four with more than one field goal. But its enough to get some noise out of the crowd. Or maybe its just the influx of Washington and Washingon State fans here for the night cap. Whatever it is, it makes me happy and that's what really matters here.

Pac-10: Ahhhhh.... Song Girls

Some more solid photo work from intrepid Hoops Odyssey reporter Matt Waxman. Nice job Matt. Enjoy-

Song Girls

Pac-10: Ben Howland is Not Happy

UCLA coach Ben Howland was not at all happy with his team's lackluster performance against Cal today. Here are a few snippets from after the game.

"I don’t even care (about an NCAA No. 1 seed). If we don't play better than we played right now, anybody in the field of 64 will beat us. Our next game, we better play like the next game is going to be our last. We haven't done that lately."

"I’m going to go back right now and watch this with our staff and I'm sure we won't find any silver lining in this game. That’s just how we're playing right now. We've played subpar against two teams that came out and really played well. You're not going to beat good teams falling down by 16."

"We will have our best practice of the year on Saturday morning… for sure."

I don't envy the Bruins on Saturday.

Pac-10: Pass the Ball!

After a slow start, Stanford has roared out to a 42-31 halftime lead. Anthony Goods leads the way with 12 points and is one of seven Stanford players to score. USC, on the other hand, has fallen off after controlling the game early on. And only four USC players have scored. There seems to be a pattern here.

Back to the energy level in the Staples Center -- Now nobody is booing the atrocious fight song karaoke singers that come up on the big screen. And there's plenty worth booing. I miss the UCLA fans.

Pac-10: Bring the Lame

Just as I was lamenting to my neighbor about the lack of noise for a good USC team in a Los Angeles arena, Stanford one-upped the Trojans in the lame fandom department. Instead of bringing a pep band like every other college hoops team on the planet, they piped in recorded band music over the loudspeakers for the cheeleaders to do their routine. I mean... c'mon. I guess that one's not really on the fans per se, but it's still pretty lame.

Back to USC though. UCLA may have lost earlier, but this place was electric for the entire game. USC fans should be ashamed. I guess they're still getting accustomed to how this round ball actually works.

In game action, Stanford has cut the USC lead down to 22-20. So far, three players -- Nick Young, Taj Gibson and Dwight Lewis -- have scored all of the Trojans' points.

Pac-10: Paging Ted Ginn

With the Trojans opening up a 12-3 lead early against Stanford, they got a little carried away with some early game celebrations. An overzealous chest-bump left forward RouSean Cromwell on his back and a USC assistant with some not-so-kind words for his players.

Pac-10: Nor Cal/ So Cal Showdown Part II

With Cal already pulling off the stunner over UCLA, its northern California counterparts/rivals from Stanford will try to score another upset for the Bay Area against No. 3 seed USC. And with Stanford being the only true bubble team in the Pac-10, there's more than bragging rights on the line for the Cardinal. It's not looking good early on though for Stanford as USC has jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

Pac-10: Nor Cal/ So Cal Showdown Part II

With Cal already pulling off the stunner over UCLA, its northern California counterparts/rivals from Stanford will try to score another upset for the Bay Area against No. 3 seed USC. And with Stanford being the only true bubble team in the Pac-10, there's more than bragging rights on the line for the Cardinal. It's not looking good early on though for Stanford as USC has jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

Pac-10: Cal Holds on to Stun UCLA

When UCLA fans started strolling out of the Staples Center with about 30 seconds left, you knew this one was over. Ryan Anderson set 'em up and Ayinde Ubaka knocked 'em down for the Bears as 8th-seeded Cal put a quick end to top-seeded UCLA's Pac-10 Tournament run, 76-69.

Anderson started out hot again for Cal, pouring in 13 first-half points before finishing with 18 points and 8 rebounds. But at the end, it was all Ubaka. He hit clutch shot after clutch shot at the end of regulation to keep the Bears afloat and scored eight points in overtime to finish with 29 for the game.

After a very sleepy start to the Pac-10 Tournament, Cal certainly amped up the excitement level. Now we have to wait and see what happens to all those UCLA tickets. Hopefully the seats won't be left empty.

Pac-10: Cal in Control

It's starting to look like the first big stunner of championship week is here. Behind some clutch shooting from Ayinde Ubaka, Cal has taken a 72-66 lead with 55 seconds left in overtime. To make matters worse Arron Afflalo just fouled out. Cal's not out of the woods just yet, but top-seeded UCLA is in big trouble.

Pac-10: Ubaka Strikes Back

We've got overtime at the Staples Center. Ayinde Ubaka responded to Collison's layup with a floater of his own to tie the game at 61. Collison set up the UCLA offense as time wore down, but missed a 3-pointer before the buzzer.

Pac-10: Crunch Time

It's back and forth in the Staples Center. With 1:29 left Lorenzo Mata, a 45 percent shooter from stripe, actually hit one of two free throws to give UCLA a 59-56 lead. The tension was all over the notoriously bad shooter's face, but he came through (sort of). Cal responded on the other end, scrambling for a loose ball before Ayinde Ubaka nailed a 3-pointer. Before Cal could set up a defense, Darren Collison responded with a layup to give UCLA a 61-59 edge.

Pac-10: Afflalo in Foul Trouble

UCLA guard Arron Afflalo picked up his fourth foul at the 5:57 mark with the Bruins leadinng 53-51. Ben Howland is playing it risky, keeping his star guard in the game. Meanwhile, reserve UCLA forward Alfred Aboya picked up his fifth and is done at the 5:09 mark.

Pac-10: Bruins on a Roll

Josh Shipp just got fouled and hit a layup to give the Bruins their first lead since 13:17 in the first half, 42-41.

Pac-10: Home Cookin'

Darren Collison just stole the ball and ran the court for a wide open breakaway dunk to bring UCLA within 41-38. The Staples Center erupted. It's as loud in here as I've ever heard it at Pauley Pavilion.

Pac-10: More Scoreboard Karaoke Fun

Now UCLA fans are booing small children. The scoreboard karaoke camera found three kids decked out in Cal garb singing a Cal fight song, leading the Bruins section to voice its disapproval. But it was nothing compared to the reaction the USC fans got. Two grown men singing a USC fight song elicited by far the loudest reaction of the whole tournament -- for anything -- as the arena filled with boos.

Pac-10: Bruins Battling Back

As is expected from a Ben Howland team, UCLA has come out fighting early in the second half to cut the Cal deficit to 39-32. The Bruins defense looks more like its old self with Cal having to fight for every shot and the Bruins going strong after every loose ball. Its a far cry from the first half when Cal shot 54 percent and outrebounded the Bruins 15-9.

Pac-10: Smells Like Teen Spirit

So now the Cal band has busted out with Nirvana and its cheerleaders are dancing to 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. Kinda funny... anyone else remember that video?

Pac-10: View from the Baseline Part II

Some photo love from one of my blogging brethren, Matt Waxman -- enjoy:

Pac-10: Trouble Bruin

After going on a 4-minute scoring drought, the UCLA offense has woken up to score on four straight possessions. The problem is, they dug a double-digit hole and Cal is answering them shot-for-shot. With just over two minutes left in the first half, Cal looks poised for a stunner with a 36-22 lead. This is a well-coached, experienced UCLA squad though -- they're not likely to fold even with the big deficit.

Ryan Anderson is still the man for Cal with 13 points while Josh Shipp leads the UCLA effort with 12.

Pac-10: Bear Down

If top-seeded UCLA was expecting an easy time with No. 8 seed Cal, they were sorely mistaken. Behind another strong start from freshman beast Ryan Anderson, the Bears have jumped out to a 22-13 lead over their Los Angeles counterparts 12 minutes into the game. Anderson, who went for 27 points and 15 rebounds against Oregon State last night, already has 11 points. And much to UCLA coach Ben Howland's chagrin, the Bruins have turned the ball over eight times.

Pac-10: Bring it On

The battle of the bands has begun with Cal and UCLA tipping the second game of the day. As I mentioned yesterday, both bands play slightly different versions of the same fight song. UCLA band members laid their claim to ownership of the song early, singing their chants while the Cal band played.

Pac-10: It's in the Books -- Oregon 69-Arizona 50

Well that was disappointing. For some reason I held a belief that both Oregon and Arizona would show up. I was wrong. Arizona's still a pretty sure bet to get an at-large NCAA bid, but won't go far unless something drastically changes. Point guard Mustafa Shakur scored two points, forward Ivan Radenovic scored six and Chase Budinger disappeared in the second half. They absolutely need better production fromm their star players.

Pac-10: It's in the Books -- Oregon 69-Arizona 50

Well that was disappointing. For some reason I held a belief that both Oregon and Arizona would show up. I was wrong. Arizona's still a pretty sure bet to get an at-large NCAA bid, but won't go far unless something drastically changes. Point guard Mustafa Shakur scored two points, forward Ivan Radenovic scored six and Chase Budinger disappeared in the second half. They absolutely need better production fromm their star players.

Pac-10: Cartoon Flashback

Nice... the Oregon band just busted out the them music from Duck Tales. Good times.

Pac-10: Where's Chase?

After scoring 10 points in the first half, Arizona's Chase Budinger has been a no-show in the second stanza. The Wildcats' star freshman has taken just two shots and missed both of them as Oregon has seized complete control of the game with less than eight minutes remaining.

Pac-10: Team Effort from Oregon

Aaron Brooks has cooled off in the second half, but his teammates have picked up the slack, mainly guard Tajuan Porter. Brooks' backcourt mate just nailed consecutive 3-pointers to increase the Ducks' advantage to 58-37. He's 4-of-5 from behind the arc for the game and has just passed Brooks for the scoring lead with 18 points.

Pac-10: UCLA Fans are Here

The Bruin faithful are definitely here at the Staples Center. During game breaks, the crowd is serenaded by some sort of fight song karaoke on the scoreboard where someone with a camera and mircophone walks around the arena finding drunk 20-somethings and sober old ladies to sing their teams' fight songs... Anyhow USC fan just got on the big board and a round of boos filled the arena.

Pac-10: Oregon in Control

In a matchup of two of the country's most perplexing teams, Oregon has taken control of its 4/5 matchup with Arizona with a 34-23 halftime lead. Both teams have starpower and at different points in the season looked like legitimate Final Four threats, but both teams often forget to bring their A-game.

Oregon, behind 45 percent shooting from the field including a 6-of-10 clip from behind the arc, brought its A-game today- at least so far. Arizona, meanwhile, is struggling from the field (9-of-27) and has no answer for Aaron Brooks and his 16 first-half points.

Pac-10: The Aaron Brooks Show

Oregon's Aaron Brooks is absolutley going off in the early goings. With the Ducks holding a 24-16 lead over Arizona, the Oregon star guard has matched the Wildcats' point total by himself. So far, he's 4-of-5 from behind the arc with 16 points and a couple of blocks down low to boot.

Pac-10: Radiohead's got Spirit

Most college pep bands stick to fight songs and classics from such regionally named 70s and 80s rockers like Boston and Kansas to hype up the crowd... Not the UA pep band. The Wildcats are aiming for the more high-brow pep and are choosing selections from Radiohead's Kid A. While a great album, it's not the first thing that comes to mind when going for college spirit, but they pull it off. Impressive.

Pac-10: That's Why You Don't Throw T-Shirts to Press Row

During the first TV timeout, the Arizona cheerleaders started throwing t-shirts and other goodies into the crowd and decided to give press row some love. Unfortunately for the writer sitting a couple of rows behind me, an overzealous fan decided the t-shirt was worth knocking over the press table and the writer's laptop. It looks like everything's ok though, other than a very agitated sports writer.

In basketball news, Oregon's jumped out to an 11-9 lead.

Pac-10: What a Difference a Day Makes

Arizona and Oregon just tipped off in what looks like the day's marquee matchup at the Staples Center and there's already a distinctly better energy in the arena today than on Wednesday. Though the arena is far from full with fans of the L.A. schools showing up late (typical), it's starting to feel like March in here.

Pac-10: Moving on to Thursday

With a sparse crowd and a not-so-impressive display of basketball from the Pac-10’s bottom four teams, Wednesday felt like a warm-up day at the Pac-10 Tournament. But, to be fair, that’s exactly what it was. With UCLA and USC both playing virtual home games, rivals Washington and Washington State squaring off in a one-and-done setting and a marquee second-round matchup between Oregon and Arizona, Thursday has the potential to be electric. I can’t wait. Here’s the rundown for round two:

(All times Pacific)
Noon: No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Arizona
2:30 pm: No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 Cal
6:00 pm: No. 3 USC vs. No. 6 Stanford
8:30 pm: No. 2 Washington State vs. No. 7 Washington

But before we move on to Thursday, here’s a final roundup from day one.

Continue reading "Pac-10: Moving on to Thursday" »

Pac-10: Huskies Hold On

Arizona State was forced to foul in the final minutes of the game and 94 percent free-throw shooter Ryan Appleby seemed to always have the ball in his hands. Appleby followed through at the line to secure the 59-51 Washington victory and send the Huskies to a second-round rivalry matchup with Washington State on Thursday

Pac-10: Brockman's Back

Washington actually gained ground with Brockman on the bench and now the star forward is back in the lineup with ASU holding a 47-46 lead. With 4:20 remaining, we've got a nailbiter in L.A. -- even if it does look like a Big Ten game.

Pac-10: Game of Runs

Ok -- now it's ASU's turn to make a run. After allowing 15 unanswered points to end the first half, the Sun Devils have come back to take a 39-38 at the 11:51 mark of the second half. Neither team is playing particularly well, but the Sun Devils are making fewer mistakes -- for the time being. Outside of Jon Brockman, who's 5-for-10 from the field, Washington is having an atrocious shooting night. As a team, the Huskies are shooting 33 percent, while Ryan Appleby is the prime offender, shooting 1-of-9 from the field -- most of them ill-advised 3-point shots. Jerren Shipp is the go-to-guy for the Sun Devils with 10 points and 3 assists.

Maybe we'll see some quality basketball from both teams at the same time before this game ends. Probably not.

Pac-10: Purple and Gold

After a poor effort from the fans in the early game, Husky nation has shown up strong for the late game at the Staples Center. Maybe it has something to do with the friendly Lakers colors spread around the arena.

Pac-10: Trading Places

So much for that Washington drought. Arizona State, once the owner of a 24-17 lead, has surrendered all momentum it had to the Huskies, who now hold a 32-24 advantage at halftime. Jon Brockman leads the Washington effort with 12 points and eight rebounds while Spencer Hawes has found his way into the flow of the game with seven points and seven rebounds. Arizona State, meanwhile, scored its last bucket with 5:03 left, and after a hot start from the field, hit just 37 percent of its field goals.

March 07, 2007

Pac-10: Hot Start For Sun Devils

ASU coach Herb Sendek, a veteran of many an upset win at the ACC Tournament as NC State's head coach, has his team ready to play in L.A. Serge Angounou got the Devils started right with a 3-pointer to open play and his teammates have followed suit as ASU has opened up a 19-10 lead eight minutes into the game. The Sun Devils are spreading the floor and finding open shooters with six of their eight field goals coming courtesy of an assist. Washington, meanwhile, is working hard to get the ball to forward Jon Brockman, who has 6 of its 10 points, but hasn't gotten star freshman center Spencer Hawes into the mix yet.

Pac-10: California Love

Oregon State ran out of gas and had no answer for super-frosh Ryan Anderson as Cal rolled to a 71-50 win. Anderson punched in with 27 points and 15 rebounds while the Golden Bears logged 25 more shot attempts from the field. Neither team managed to shoot at a 40 percent clip, but the Beavers simply didn't have enough opportunities to score.

Pac-10: Running out of Time

Oregon State's comeback effort has stalled late in the game as Ryan Anderson (who else?) hit a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to extend Cal's lead back to 66-47 with less than three minutes remaining. Despite cooling off in the second half, Anderson and the Bears look well on their way to a mactchup with UCLA on Thursday.

Pac-10: Beavers Chipping Away

Cal wasn't able to put OSU away early in the second half, and the Beavers look determined to make it a game. At the 11:40 mark OSU has cut the 18-point halftime deficit to 51-39. They've reined in Ryan Anderson, who's scored just two points in the second stanza while Beaver forward Marcel Jones has tallied seven second-half points for a total of 16 on the game.

Pac-10: Back to Basketball

I just checked out the halftime stats and am shocked to see that OSU, despite facing an 18-point deficit, actually outshot Cal, 47.8 percent to 44.4 percent during the first half. The problem for the Beavers is that Cal had 13 more shots from the field. OSU turned the ball over nine times to just three for the Bears. Cal was also lights-out from behind the arc, hitting 10-of-22 attempts, while Oregon State made just 2-of-10.

If Oregon State's going to get back into this one, it will have to take better care of the ball and find some sort of answer for Ryan Anderson, who logged 20 points and six rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc.

Pac-10: View from the Baseline

After fighting technical difficulties and Los Angeles traffic for most of the afternoon, I've got some time to take in the scenery with halftime at the Staples Center, my first trip to the Lakers home court. With luxury boxes stacked three-high all the way around the arena and what looks like a shopping center in the atrium, this is definitely basketball the way LA intended it.

By my guess, the arena's about a quarter-full for tonight's games with UCLA and USC out of action until tomorrow. There are no celebrity sightings to report of yet, but I do have a good view of the Cal cheerleaders from my baseline seat, so I'm not complaining.

Pac-10: Oregon State Scores!

That's big news at this point. The Beavers finally got a bucket at the 2:24 mark of the first half after allowing Cal to turn a 15-15 tie into a 40-15 advantage. They seem to have cured whatever ailed them, scoring on three consecutive possessions before cutting the deficit to 43-25 at the half. It may be too little too late, though.

Pac-10: Golden Bear

Wow -- after a taut game for the first 10 minutes, Cal has absolutely taken over against Oregon State. Since the game was tied at 15, the Golden Bears have rolled off 23 unanswered points behind an aggressive defense and a ridiculously hot hand from freshman Ryan Anderson who already has 20 points. Oregon State has turned the ball over repeatedly in its half court set, setting up easy buckets for Cal on the other end. Anderson, a 6-10 freshman forward, clearly isn't bothered by the big lights and tournament pressure here in L.A.

Pac-10: Let's Get it Started

We're officially live from the Staples Center and the late-night version (at least for you east coasters) of Hang Time. I'm checking in as Oregon State and Cal kick off the first of two play-in games for the Pac-10 tournament. It's a few minutes into the first half and the Beavers and Bears are tied at 15 with the winner earning the right to take on top-seed UCLA. More to come...

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