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February 16, 2007

Pac-10 Breakdown: The rookie meets the vet

Pac-10 Standings
Team Conf. Overall
UCLA 10-2 21-3
Washington State 11-3 22-4
USC 9-4 19-7
Oregon 8-6 20-6
Arizona 8-6 17-8
Stanford 8-5 16-8
Washington 6-8 16-9
California 5-8 13-12
Oregon State 2-12 10-17
Arizona State 0-13 6-18
Standings as of 2/15

Best matchup: Washington's Spencer Hawes vs. Pittsburgh's Aaron Gray
It's the rookie vs. the veteran. A couple of weeks ago, Gray would have had a distinct advantage. However, Hawes has recovered from an illness early in the season to find his offensive game in recent weeks. Now, Hawes will go up against one of the Big East's best defensive centers in Gray, a 7-foot senior.

Worst matchup: Oregon's frontcourt vs. Stanford's frontcourt
Stanford's frontcourt of 7-foot twins Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez - along with 6-foot-8 forward Lawrence Hill - should cause problems Saturday for the Ducks. Oregon's tallest starter is 6-foot-9 center Maarty Luenen. Oregon should have the advantage in the backcourt, especially with Stanford guard Anthony Goods out of the lineup with a high ankle sprain.

The pressure is on: Stanford.
The Cardinal seemed to be assured of a tournament spot after a win over UCLA. Double-digit losses to Washington State and Washington last week have put Stanford on the bubble. The road doesn't get any easier with Oregon, USC, UCLA and Arizona rounding out the schedule.

Upset alert: Arizona over UCLA, Saturday
UCLA is hardly invincible anymore, especially on the road. The Wildcats could pick up a signature win this season against the Bruins, especially if guard Darren Collison and center Lorenzo Mata are limited for UCLA.

Who's hot: Washington forward Jon Brockman has averaged 17 points and 12.7 rebounds in his last three games. Oregon State forward Sasha Cuic averaged 23.5 points per game last week. Washington State has allowed an average of 46 points per game over the last three games.

Who's not: Oregon guard Aaron Brooks was 3-for-22 from the field and scored a total of 11 points in games against Arizona State and Arizona last week.. Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur has averaged 3.7 points per game while shooting 5-for-23 from the field over the last three games. On the bright side, Shakur has averaged seven assists per game over the same span. Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph was 2-for-12 from the field but had 31 rebounds in two games last week.

Must see TV: UCLA at Arizona, Saturday 1 p.m., CBS; Washington at Pittsburgh, Saturday 2 p.m., ESPN

Key stat: 4
Home-and-home sweeps of Pac-10 teams by Washington State, the most since the Cougars had five in 1982-83. The Cougars can match or surpass that total by beating Oregon State in Corvallis on Feb. 24 or USC in Pullman on March 3.

Bench bonus: Washington State guard Taylor Rochestie came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points to lead the Cougars in their 65-61 win over Washington on Wednesday. He was 6-for-9 from the field with four assists.

They said it: "If I need to get on officials, I'll get on officials. Even if I need to use my foot and wave at them."

- Oregon coach Ernie Kent in The Oregon Daily Emerald. Kent will limited in the use of his left arm following a shoulder injury on Saturday.

Injury update: UCLA guard Darren Collison (shoulder) and center Lorenzo Mata (hip) were scheduled to return Thursday at Arizona State. Stanford guard Anthony Goods will miss at least one more game with a high left ankle sprain and could be out for another two weeks. Arizona forward Jordan Hill (illness) played over the weekend but missed Monday's practice.

Worth noting: Oregon coach Ernie Kent tore his left rotator cuff Saturday before collapsing in the final minute of the Arizona game. Kent bumped into an assistant coach while trying to call a timeout. He will have surgery in April or May. Stanford's Robin Lopez has set a school freshman record with 59 blocks.

Freshman to watch: Chase Budinger had his finest performance of the season Saturday in Arizona's 77-74 win over Oregon. Budinger scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Something you may have missed: Could Arizona State (6-18, 0-13) be closing in on its first Pac-10 win? In the last four games, the Sun Devils have lost by five to Washington, by one to Washington State, by four at Oregon and by four at Oregon State. First-year coach Herb Sendek's crew has been effective keeping opponents off the scoreboard. The Sun Devils are allowing 62.7 points per game, good for fourth in the Pac-10.

RPI watch: Despite the loss to West Virginia on Saturday, UCLA remained atop the RPI rankings entering play Thursday night. Arizona held the No. 6 spot, Washington State checked in at No. 20 and Oregon was 25th.

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


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