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February 2, 2007
Pac-10 Breakdown: Big week for Southern Cal
Best matchup: USC guard Gabe Pruitt vs. Oregon and UCLA. Pruitt, who has missed some practice this week because of a stomach virus, will have to recover in a hurry. The Trojans play host to Oregon on Saturday and face UCLA on the road on Wednesday. Pruitt's matchups with the top two scoring guards in the conference – the Ducks' Aaron Brooks and the Bruins' Arron Afflalo – will be critical to USC's chances.
Worst matchup: Washington at Arizona on Saturday. At one point, this appeared to be one of the most important games in the Pac-10 this season. However, each team has endured a losing skid. It remains a critical game for each for the wrong reason – the loser's chances of playing in the NCAA Tournament will be in peril. The Huskies bring their league-worst defense (allowing 76.3 points per game) against the conference's best offense (82.4 ppg).
The pressure is on: Washington. The Huskies started 1-6 in the Pac-10 before winning their next two games. If they're going to sneak into the tournament, the time is now. Washington goes to struggling Arizona on Saturday before a homestand against Cal and Stanford.
Upset alert: USC over UCLA on Wednesday. With a loss to Stanford last week, the aura of invincibility has been lifted off the Bruins. After UCLA's key game against Oregon on Saturday, the Trojans could be in position to stun the Bruins. UCLA needed a second-half rally to beat USC 65-64 in their first meeting this year.
Who's hot: Stanford forward Lawrence Hill has averaged 21.5 points per game in his last four games. He scored seven consecutive points in the second half of the 75-68 upset of UCLA. … Washington forward Jon Brockman averaged 19.5 points and eight rebounds per game in last week's homestand, which included wins over Oregon and Oregon State.
tar Who's not: Arizona, once ranked No. 7 in the country, had lost five of seven going into Thursday's game against Washington State. The Wildcats allowed 80.2 points per game in those five losses. … UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has been in foul trouble in three of his last five games going into Thursday's game against Oregon. He's had four fouls in each of those three games and three in another. He has not scored in double digits since Jan. 4
Must see TV: Oregon at USC, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports Net affiliates/ESPNPlus
Key stat: 4.3. Percentage of three-point shots Arizona made in its 92-64 loss at home to North Carolina. Mustafa Shakur made the only 3-pointer in 23 attempts against the Tar Heels.
Bench bonus: Washington State guard Chris Mathews scored a season-high 13 points, going 5-for-9 from the field, in a loss to Oregon on Saturday. He had missed the previous three games with an ankle injury. … Arizona freshman forward Jordan Hill came off the bench and contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to North Carolina on Saturday. He has scored in double figures in the last two games.
They said it: "The NBA scouts who come by our practice say the Pac-10 is the most intriguing league in the country with pro prospects. They can literally spend their time going up and down the coast." - USC coach Tim Floyd in The Tucson Citizen.
Injury update: Arizona forward Bret Brielmaier returned on Saturday after missing 23 days with a right knee injury. … Cal forward Eric Vierneisel (sprained ankle) could return against Stanford on Saturday. … Washington State guard Nikola Koprivica tore the ACL in his right knee Saturday against Oregon and will miss the remainder of the season. … Oregon forward Adam Zahn (concussion) was scheduled to return Thursday against UCLA after missing two games last week.
Worth noting: Stanford forward Brook Lopez became the first player in Cardinal history with a triple double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocks. Lopez earned Rivals.com Freshman of the Week honors for his performance. … Stanford became the seventh Pac-10 to appear in The Associated Press Top 25 this year. No. 5 UCLA, No. 9 Oregon, No. 18 Washington State, No. 20 Arizona and No. 23 Stanford are in this week's poll. Washington and USC were ranked earlier in the year. It is the first time in Pac-10 history seven different league teams have been ranked at some point during the season. … USC had not allowed a team to shoot 50 percent from the floor this season until Cal made 51.9 percent of its shots on Saturday.
Freshman to watch: Arizona State guard Derek Glasser is averaging 35.3 minutes per game in Pac-10 play, leading all conference freshmen. He has 40 assists and just 15 turnovers in Pac-10 games.
Something you may have missed: Stanford's Lopez twins have received plenty of accolades, but Oregon State has its own productive brother combo. Josh Tarver scored a career-high 22 points with seven assists against Washington. Seth Tarver came of the bench against Washington State with six rebounds, three assists and two steals in 12 minutes.
RPI watch: Arizona, despite its recent struggles, was ranked sixth in the RPI on Thursday. The Wildcats dropped from third from the previous week. … UCLA was ranked No. 1 in the RPI entering Thursday night's games.