The New Year means that college basketball has hit conference play.
After one week, a couple of favorites lead the way in the Pac-12. Let’s take a quick look around the entire conference to see how things shook out:
Arizona Wildcats 13-2 (2-0 in conference)
- Dus is loose: Dusan Ristic has made great strides this year, especially on defense.
- Ay Bay Bay: Arizona demolished Stanford over the weekend to complete the sweep of Bay Area teams and moved up to 17th in the AP and Coaches polls.
- Desert D: Arizona is 15th in the nation in scoring defense (60.3/g), less than a tenth of a point behind Cal for tops in the conference.
Oregon Ducks 13-2 (2-0 in conference)
- Swat team: The Ducks lead the nation in blocks per game (7.73/g) led by Chris Boucher (3.08/g, 8th in the nation). Boucher could be well on his way to Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, as he averages an outstanding 1.21 blocks per personal foul.
- 3’s starting to fall: While starting the season shooting 32% from three-point range, the Ducks canned 19 in two victories against USC and UCLA, including seven in the first half against the Bruins.
- Duc Longley: The Ducks have tremendous length and have a unique ability to cause havoc in the passing lanes and rebound as a team. They are the only team in the conference with four players averaging at least one steal per game. Oregon is also getting 8.3 reb/g from guards Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis.
Utah Utes 10-3 (1-0 in conference)
- Cleaning the glass: Utah is 8th in the nation in rebound margin, averaging 10.1 more reb/g than their opponents.
- Cruisin by Colorado: Utah cruised to a victory over Colorado in their first conference game, where they led by as many as 23 points.
- Kuzma returns: The Utes got second-leading scorer and top rebounder Kyle Kuzma back against Colorado after missing all but a minute of the Diamond Head Classic over Christmas. In his return from an ankle injury, Kuzma scored 14 and grabbed six boards.
Washington State Cougars 8-5 (1-0 in conference)
- Why you always hatin?: Picked to finish dead last in the preseason poll, Wazzu is currently sitting 4th in the standings after a rivalry victory.
- Puppy dogs: Wazzu survived 26 points from Markelle Fultz to upset the Huskies in the Apple Cup to start conference play.
Cougs take Pac-12 Opener over Huskies, 79-74! #GoCougs #AlwaysBringIt pic.twitter.com/qkwJ7JWVYF— WSU Men's Basketball (@WSUMensHoops) January 2, 2017
- Diaper Dandy Flynn: Malachi Flynn is averaging 11.3 points and 32.6 minutes per game for WSU and is one of seven true freshmen to start at point guard in the conference. Coming out of Bellarmine Prep in Washington, UW head coach Lorenzo Romar said everyone in the state knew about Flynn and his shooting ability. “Outside (of the state), I am not sure how many people knew how good he was as a shooter,” said Romar. “People are aware of him now.”
USC Trojans 14-1 (1-1 in conference)
- Downed by the Ducks: USC suffered their first loss of the season in Eugene, losing by 23 to Oregon. Here are the highlights:
- Slippin’: USC slipped to 25th in the polls after their first loss:
Slipped to No. 25 after our first loss.— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 2, 2017
Big week ahead with Stanford and Cal coming to @TheGalenCenter. #ItTakesATeam https://t.co/zoikFaCNTH
UCLA Bruins 14-1 (1-1 in conference)
- Bounce Back Beavers: After suffering their first loss of the season to Oregon, the Bruins bounced back to defeat Oregon State over the weekend.
- Deuces Wild: Lonzo Ball is second in the nation in assists (8.1/g) and the Bruins are second in the nation is scoring offense (93.9/g) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.88).
- Leaf does it all: Former Arizona commit T.J. Leaf has done a bit of everything for the Bruins. He currently leads the team in scoring (17.5/g) and offensive rebounds (2.6/g), while chipping in 2.7 assists/g, 1.3 blocks/g, and 0.8 steals/g.
California Golden Bears 10-4 (1-1 in conference)
- Devil domination: After losing to Arizona, Cal beat ASU over the weekend. Here’s the recap:
Arizona State Sun Devils 8-7 (1-1 in conference)
- Ups and Downs: ASU had some quality wins in their non-conference play winning at San Diego State and defeating UNLV in Tempe. But they also suffered tough losses to Davidson and New Mexico State at home.
Colorado Buffaloes 10-4 (0-1 in conference)
- Don’t like Ute: After their latest loss to Utah, the Buffs have lost six in a row to Utah dating back to the 2013-14 season.
- Devils Next: Colorado will face Arizona State in Tempe on Thursday night.
- Can’t turn it over: Colorado is one of the worst teams in the nation in causing turnovers (11.64/g). Wazzu and Cal are bad too; all three of them are in the bottom 50 nationally in turning opponents over.
Washington Huskies 7-6 (0-1 in conference)
- Wasteful Washington: Washington is off to yet another mediocre start despite having a lottery talent for the second straight season. Marquese Chriss was selected eighth in the 2016 NBA Draft, and Markelle Fultz could be better. Fultz is currently 15th in the nation in scoring (22.3/g) and 10th in the nation in assists (6.7/g).
- They got 5 on it: Washington hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2011 and is off to a rough start, dashing their hopes of ending the five year drought.
The Stanford Cardinal 8-6 (0-2 in conference) and Oregon State Beavers 4-11 (0-2 in conference) round out the bottom of the Pac.
Other West Notes:
- UC Davis defeated Utah Valley and Seattle over the weekend to save the Big West Conference the embarrassment of having zero teams with a winning record heading into the new year.
- Despite bringing in four notable D1 transfers, Cal State Northridge is off to a disappointing 4-9 start. Former NBA head coach Reggie Theus has struggled mightily at CSUN, going 40-71 in his three-plus seasons.
- San Diego State won the Diamond Head Classic, and Zylan Cheatham took home MVP honors. This was the Aztecs’ first Diamond Head crown in two tries. Arizona’s Nick Johnson showed them his best LeBron impression in 2012.