Pac-12 pre­sea­son fa­vorites UCLA, Ore­gon face off

Merced Sun-Star - - Sports -

A look at things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Con­fer­ence:

Game of the week: UCLA at Ore­gon, Thurs­day. The Ducks and Bru­ins were the Pac-12’s pre­sea­son fa­vorites, but have suf­fered some un­ex­pected losses.

Ore­gon lost to Texas South­ern at home in late No­vem­ber and to Ore­gon State last week to open con­fer­ence play. UCLA cost coach Steve Al­ford his job with an even non­con­fer­ence sched­ule that in­cluded losses to Lib­erty and Bel­mont.

Even so, both teams have ros­ters loaded with ta­lent – the Ducks less so with star fresh­man Bol Bol out due to a foot in­jury – and should get up and down the floor quickly. Strong starts: Ari­zona and USC had in­con­sis­tent non­con­fer­ence sea­sons, but they’re tied with UCLA atop the Pac-12 af­ter win­ning both games on open­ing week­end. The Wild­cats have the Bay Area trip this week, fac­ing Stan­ford and Cal, while the Tro­jans face the Ore­gon schools.

In­side the num­bers: Two of the Pac-12’s long­est se­ries wins streaks will be on the line this week. Ari­zona had won 17 straight against Stan­ford en­ter­ing Wed­nes­day’s game and Utah has a nine-game win­ning streak against Wash­ing­ton State go­ing into Thurs­day’s con­test. … The open­ing week­end was filled with lop­sided wins. The av­er­age mar­gin was 12.3 points and six of the 10 games were de­cided by dou­ble dig­its. … Wash­ing­ton’s Matisse Thy­bulle has 246 ca­reer steals, tied with Ari­zona State’s Stevin Smith for fourth on the Pac-12’s ca­reer list. Player to watch: Nick Rako­ce­vic, USC. The Tro­jans’ ju­nior for­ward av­er­aged 25 points and nine re­bounds while shoot­ing 70 per­cent in wins over Cal and Stan­ford last week. Rako­ce­vic had a ca­reer-high 27 points against the Bears on his way to be­ing named Pac-12 player of the week.

On the women’s side:

No. 19 Ari­zona State has a tough se­cond Pac-12 week­end with No. 6 Stan­ford vis­it­ing Tempe on Fri­day and No. 24 Cal on Sun­day. … Cal’s trip to Ari­zona will fea­ture two of the na­tion’s top scor­ers: Ari­zona’s Aari McDon­ald is se­cond na­tion­ally at 25.4 points per game and Cal’s Kris­tine Anigwe ninth at 22.1. … It’s get­ting to the point where it’s sur­pris­ing when Ore­gon’s Sab­rina Ionescu doesn’t get a triple-dou­ble. She ex­tended her NCAA record to 15 against Wash­ing­ton State last week, fin­ish­ing with 17 points, 12 re­bounds and 10 as­sists. Ionescu leads the na­tion with nine as­sists per game.


UCLA head coach Murry Bar­tow ges­tures dur­ing the first half against Cal­i­for­nia on Satur­day in Los An­ge­les.

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