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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 6

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Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe netted 14 points in Cal's win over UCLA on Saturday.

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FEBRUARY 07, 2012

No. 1: Washington (16-7, 9-2)

Washington has shot 47.4 percent through its past five games, all wins. This is not a superlative statistic, but in their two conference losses, the Huskies shot 37.5 percent (at Colorado) and 40.6 percent (vs. Cal). If they play up to their potential, they might be the best in the Pac-12.

Their 3-point shooting is sporadic — in two weeks, they’ve shot below 15 percent twice and above 40 percent twice — but sophomore Terrence Ross can explode at a moment’s notice. In Washington’s 71-69 win over UCLA, Ross scored 10 of his team’s last 12 points.

— Jack Wang

No. 2: Cal (18-6, 8-3)

A four-point loss to red-hot Arizona knocks the Bears out of first place. Haas Pavilion’s rowdy fans may stick the blame on questionable calls, but Cal couldn’t contain the physical Wildcats, blowing a 13-point lead in the first half.

The Bears have had trouble with athleticism this year, a weakness most glaringly victimized by now-No. 4 Missouri. Luckily for them, neither USC nor UCLA really fits that description. The Bruins have shown sporadic signs of life, but Cal’s upcoming road trip is very winnable. If the team doesn’t sweep, its shot at a regular season title dims slightly.

— Jack Wang

No. 3: Arizona (16-8, 7-4)

The Pac-12 race just got a bit foggy after Arizona made a ruckus this past weekend with a road sweep — in the Bay Area, no less. The Wildcats defied the odds of Pac-12 parity behind the shooting prowess of Kyle Fogg. The senior guard made 5-of-6 treys against Cal on Thursday. He followed up his 23-point effort with 14 more points against Stanford.

Defensively, the Wildcats sure know how to close out on 3-point shooters. They forced their weekend opponents into a combined 4-for-20 performance from behind the line.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 4: Colorado (16-7, 8-3)

The Buffaloes are tied for second in the conference, but is that only because of their schedule? Of Colorado’s 11 Pac-12 games thus far, seven have been at home. The Buffs won all seven. But now Colorado will pack its bags and hop on a plane, hoping for its second conference road win. The squad probably won’t get it on Thursday against a red-hot Arizona squad. Maybe on Saturday at Arizona State or the following week at Utah.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 5: Oregon (16-7, 7-4)

Ducks fans cried foul. Tied at 71, Oregon looked like it was going to overtime at Colorado. Then, video review overturned the initial ruling that E.J. Singler had fouled Nate Tomlinson after the clock. The referees put 0.1 seconds back on, and Tomlinson sank the go-ahead free throw.

The loss comes at an inopportune time for the Ducks. Oregon must next face streaking Washington, and will visit the Bay Area the following week. Dana Altman has coached up a stable squad, but he may not have enough talent to hang with the top of the conference.

— Jack Wang

No. 6: Stanford (16-7, 6-5)

What’s happening in Stanford? After being tied for first in the Pac-12 a few weeks back, the Cardinal have lost four of their last five, shooting a season-worst 25.4 percent from the field in Saturday’s 56-43 loss to Arizona.

Stanford is having trouble putting the ball in the basket —freshman guard Chasson Randle was 4-of-16 from the field on Saturday, point guard Aaron Bright 4-of-14.

And who is the squad’s leader? Not senior guard Jarrett Mann, who has never shot better than 38.5 percent in his career. Power forward Josh Owens? One would think, but he just doesn’t get the ball enough … or command it enough. Owens needs to take more than nine shots a game and play more than 29 minutes.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 7: UCLA (13-10, 6-5)

There’s no shame in losing to Washington in Seattle. The Bruins never seem to win at Hec Edmundson Pavilion; heck, the last time they won was in 2004 behind a big game from Trevor Ariza. If UCLA couldn’t win there with Kevin Love, Russel Westbrook or Arron Afflalo, it was no surprise the team would lose with the likes of Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson. But to see a 10-point lead vanish into the misty Pacific Northwest air — the Bruins certainly do lose in style. And they almost lost two days later in Pullman, coming from behind to nip the Cougars by three points.

Josh Smith had 43 points in the two games this weekend, finally showing a glimpse of the  potential he has as a 6-foot-10 center.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 8: Oregon State (15-8, 5-6)

Before the Beavers knocked off Oregon in Eugene on Jan. 29, they lost 13 straight conference road games. Here’s to the start of a new streak.

For a moment, Oregon State’s win over its in-state rival seemed to be a momentum changer, one that could turn around a slipping season. Then the Beavers face-planted in Boulder, where the common excuse of altitude does nothing to alter the reality of a 22-point loss. Colorado is an unimpressive team that is somehow still undefeated at home through conference play; its thorough dismantling of OSU unmasks the Beavers as an undisciplined, erratic team.

— Jack Wang

No. 9: Washington State (12-11, 4-7)

Brock Motum, Pac-12 Player of the Year? Well, no, the Cougars’ junior forward won’t win the coveted award, but he’s certainly put his hat in the ring. The 6-foot-10 Australian ranks second in the conference with 17.2 points per game. He’s also sixth in rebounds with nearly seven a game. On Saturday, Motum had 25 points on 18 shots, playing all 40 minutes in a narrow loss to UCLA. Two days earlier, he tallied 26 points on 11 shots.

Too bad his team has lost three of its last four and is in the bottom third of the conference standings.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 10: Arizona State (7-16, 3-8)

Arizona State is stuck in a rut. Without point guard Keala King (dismissed for “unacceptable conduct”) and Trent Lockett (sprained ankle), the Sun Devils are laughably inept on offense. They’re still capable of slowing down opposing teams — Cal went scoreless for minutes at a time despite blowing out ASU, 68-47. This method is less effective for winning games than it is for creating unwatchable basketball.

— Jack Wang

No. 11: USC (6-18, 1-10)

USC ranks 343rd in rebounds per game nationally. There are 344 division I men’s basketball teams. The squad’s 27.6 boards a game ranks above only Denver. Almost as bad, the Trojans score 53.8 points per game, putting them just ahead of Eastern Michigan, Grambling State and Towson for 341st in the nation. The Towson Tigers, who rank dead last, are 1-24 this season. USC, meanwhile, is a cool 6-18, with one win in 2012. The Trojans will no doubt win again this year. It might not be until November though.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 12: Utah (5-18, 2-9)

Utah has lost its past four games by 27, 17, 11 and 18 points, which is at least a slight upward trend. The Utes’ last win came over Arizona State at home, and they will visit the Sun Devils again Thursday. Utah didn’t announce attendance figures for last week’s home loss to Oregon; ASU may want to follow suit this week.

— Jack Wang

Contact Jonathan Kuperberg at 

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FEBRUARY 08, 2012