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February 9, 2007

Pac-10 Breakdown: Oregon reeling

Pac-10 Standings
Team Conf. Overall
UCLA 10-2 21-2
Washington State 8-3 19-4
Stanford 7-3 15-6
USC 8-4 18-7
Oregon 7-4 19-4
Arizona 6-5 15-7
California 4-6 12-10
Washington 4-7 14-8
Oregon State 1-10 9-15
Arizona State 0-11 6-16
Standings as of 2/8

Best matchup: Mustafa Shakur vs. Aaron Brooks. When Arizona and Oregon meet on Saturday, it will pair two once-beleaguered point guards who have turned around their careers as seniors. Shakur has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio from 1.75 to 2.2. Brooks (18.7 ppg) is making a run at Pac-10 Player of the Year. Also check out Stanford's game at Washington with the Lopez twins facing Spencer Hawes. It's not often you find three 7-foot freshmen in one game.

Worst matchup: Arizona State at Oregon State. The teams are a combined 1-21 in Pac-10 play, the only win being the Beavers' win over the Sun Devils earlier this year.

The pressure is on: Oregon went 1-3 over the last two weeks, falling from second place in the Pac-10 to 2 games behind UCLA. The Ducks have Arizona at home Saturday followed by road trips to Cal and Stanford next week to get back on track.

Upset alert: Cal over Oregon on Thursday. The Ducks are starting to fall to Earth after an 18-1 start. The Bears could capitalize at home. Also, watch out for UCLA, who has to go cross country Saturday for a non-conference game at surprising West Virginia (18-5).

Who's hot:After two double-doubles in the first 18 games, UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has two in the last three. He was 12 for 12 from the field against Oregon and Oregon State last week. USC swingman Nick Young is averaging 17.8 points over the last four games while shooting 61.5 percent from the field.

Who's not: Oregon's shooting percentage dropped in each of the last four games during a 1-3 stretch on the road. Arizona State is shooting 35.3 percent from the floor over its last four games going into Thursday. Cal had lost four in a row including three at home going into Thursday's game at Washington.

Must see TV: Arizona at Oregon, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC; USC at Arizona, 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Fox Sports Net

Key stat: 50 percent. Oregon State has made only half of its free throws in Pac-10 play.

Bench bonus: USC got zero points and nine fouls from its bench in its 70-65 loss to UCLA on Wednesday night.

They said it:"That was probably the best coaching I've done all year." Arizona State coach Herb Sendek on leaving the floor after he was ejected from the Sun Devils' loss to Washington. Arizona State is 6-16 and winless in Pac-10 play.

Injury update: Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur (ankle sprain) was expected to play Thursday against Oregon State.

Worth noting: UCLA has won 18 in a row at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins are the only team in the Pac-10 that is undefeated at home. Washington State swept the Arizona schools for the first time in school history last week. Arizona State coach Herb Sendek was ejected for the first time in his career Feb. 1 in a 66-61 loss to Washington. He received two technical fouls after gesturing to the crowd for a reaction toward officials after a controversial call.

Freshman to watch: USC forward Taj Gibson leads the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (61.4). Arizona State sophomore Jeff Pendergraph is next on the list at 57.9 percent.

Something you may have missed: Arizona, maligned all year for its poor defense, switched from zone to man-to-man last week and allowed a season-low 54 points to Washington on Saturday. The Wildcats are allowing 72.8 points per game this season.

RPI watch: Arizona (15-7, 6-5) has plummeted to No. 24 in the AP poll and fell out of the coaches poll this week, yet remains seventh in the RPI according to RPI expert Ken Pomeroy on www.kenpom.com. At No. 235, Arizona State is the lowest-ranked team from a major conference.

More Conference Breakdowns: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC | Big East

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