Pac-12 men’s hoops power rankings: Oregon State leaps into top-3

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Editor’s note: All facts and stats are accurate as of 1/16/2019

  1. Washington (12-4, 3-0) — Previous rank: 1

Opponents: at Utah (W, 69-53), at Colorado (W, 77-70)

Player of the week: Nahziah Carter (13.5 PTS, 2.0 TRB, 0.5 AST)

 

Washington is beginning to hit its stride on both sides of the court, and for the rest of the Pac-12, that’s terrifying news. The Huskies are currently riding a five-game winning streak, one that will likely improve to seven when it hosts Stanford and Cal this upcoming week. What’s most encouraging for Washington is that its depth has shown its colors during this winning streak. Against Utah, a night when Jaylen Nowell scored 6 points and Noah Dickerson got into foul trouble, Nahziah Carter came through with a career-high 18 points off the bench. Washington did let its foot off the gas pedal against Colorado in the second half, but Nowell played the role of ice-cold closer with 15 second-half points. David Crisp has been lighting it up since conference play began, averaging 18.7 points and hitting two-thirds of his threes.

 

  1. Arizona (13-4, 4-0) — Previous rank: 2

Opponents: at Stanford (W, 75-70), at Cal (W, 87-65)

Player of the week: Chase Jeter (16.5 PTS, 7.0 TRB) and Ira Lee (8.0 PTS, 5.5 TRB, 2.5 BLK)

 

Speaking of winning streaks, the Wildcats — now the winners of six straight ballgames — continue to roll along. Similar to Washington’s win against Utah, Arizona received a spark from its bench against Stanford on the road in the form of a 12-point, four-rebound performance from Ira Lee. A couple nights later, Arizona straight up out-everything’d Cal, led by Chase Jeter’s 23 points and capitalized by Lee’s poster dunk. Justin Coleman looked more like himself after a shoulder injury impaired him last week, averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists against the Cardinal and the Bears. The Wildcats’ depth took a hit as Emmanuel Akot announced he would be transferring from the program. With Akot gone, Lee and Ryan Luther are the two likeliest candidates to take up those minutes.

 

  1. Oregon State (11-4, 3-0) — Previous rank: 6

Opponents: USC (W, 79-74 OT), UCLA (W, 79-66)

Player of the week: Stephen Thompson Jr. (25.5 PTS, 8.0 TRB, 5.5 AST)

 

Well, isn’t this a welcome surprise? A week after upsetting Oregon on the road, Oregon State continues to turn heads, this time by defending home court by defeating both USC and UCLA. With Tres Tinkle out and Kevin Porter Jr. and Elijah Weaver returning to the hardwood, a Trojans’ road win was ripe for the taking, but Stephen Thompson Jr. put his team on the back with a career-high 34 points along with 10 rebounds and five assists. The Beavers’ two-game homestand was capped off with a stifling defensive performance, holding the Bruins to 66 points, their lowest in conference play. Oregon State will have its toughest stretch of Pac-12 play on the docket next week when it takes on Arizona State and Arizona on the road. If the Beavers can steal one of those games in enemy territory, they’ll solidify themselves as true contenders to win the conference.

 

  1. UCLA (10-7, 3-1) — Previous rank: 4

Opponents: at Oregon (W, 87-84 OT), at Oregon State (L, 79-66)

Player of the week: Prince Ali (17.5 PTS, 3.0 TRB, 2.0 AST)

 

UCLA was dead in the water. Oregon was up by 9 points at home with a minute left in regulation and had control of the game for just about the entire game. Then, all hell broke loose. The Bruins scored 15 points in 50 seconds to send the game to overtime and then outlasted the Ducks in the extra period to secure the dub. It’s hard to exactly nail down what’s happening behind closed doors, but the Bruins seem to genuinely enjoy playing for new head coach Murry Bartow. Just look at this clip of Jaylen Hands and Moses Brown that went viral last week. The offense did look sluggish in the following game against the Beavers, but the Bruins should be more than happy after securing its first Tier A win of the season. Rivalry weekend is on deck for UCLA when it travels from Westwood to Downtown Los Angeles, taking on USC.

 

  1. Arizona State (11-5, 2-2) — Previous rank: 3

Opponents: at Cal (W, 80-66), at Stanford (L, 85-71)

Player of the week: Remy Martin (16.0 PTS, 2.5 TRB, 4.5 AST, 1.5 STL)

 

For a second straight week, Arizona State continues to fall. With the way Washington and Arizona have been playing as of late, it’s hard to envision Bobby Hurley’s team reclaiming the top spot. Against Cal, Arizona State came out flat, trailed at the half and didn’t put the scuffling team away until midway through the second half. If Remy Martin didn’t drain a career-high five 3-pointers en route to a career-high 24 points, maybe the Bears would have hung around and defended home court. The Stanford game was a pure mess from a fundamental standpoint as Arizona State turned the ball over 17 times and went six of 17 from the free-throw line.

 

  1. Oregon (10-6, 1-2) — Previous rank: 7

Opponents: UCLA (L, 87-84 OT), USC (W, 81-60)

Player of the week: Louis King (20.5 PTS, 9.0 TRB, 3.5 AST, 1.5 STL)

 

There are two sides to every comeback win. Oregon was up 17 points with seven minutes to go. Oregon was also up 9 points with a minute to go. Then, the wheels fell off. The silver lining is that Oregon followed the meltdown with a “pissed off” win, laying the smackdown on a Kevin Porter Jr.-less USC team. Louis King is finally looking like the five-star prospect that was projected to go in the lottery, and that’s a great sign for Oregon going forward. Paul White has been excellent as of late as well. Even including a dud against Baylor, White is averaging 13.6 points with .493/.455/.731 (field goal, 3-point, free-throw percentage) shooting splits over the last seven games.

 

  1. Stanford (8-8, 1-3) — Previous rank: 9

Opponents: Arizona (L, 75-70), Arizona State (W, 85-71)

Player of the week: Kezie Okpala (25.0 PTS, 7.5 TRB, 3.0 AST, 1.5 STL) and Oscar da Silva (15.0 PTS, 7.0 TRB, 2.5 AST, 1.0 STL, 3.0 BLK)

 

The Cardinal may not be in that echelon of teams that are expected to compete for a conference championship come March. What it will be, however, is a team that opponents hate to play. After dropping a close one to Arizona that extended its losing streak to three, Stanford dismantled Arizona State for its first win of conference play. Kezie Okpala continued to do Kezie Okpala things, matching his career-high of 29 points against Arizona, and Oscar da Silva dropped 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against Arizona State.

 

  1. USC (9-8, 2-2) — Previous rank: 5

Opponents: at Oregon State (L, 79-74 OT), at Oregon (L, 81-60)

Player of the week: Bennie Boatwright (25.0 PTS, 8.0 TRB, 2.0 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.0 BLK)

 

One step forward, one step back. After handling the Bay Area teams with relative ease, the Oregon schools hit USC with the one-two combo known as a reality check. Bennie Boatwright gave the Trojans buckets, scoring a career-high 37 points on 14 of 24 shooting, but the Trojans couldn’t knock off a team lacking Tres Tinkle. Without Kevin Porter Jr. against the Ducks, who was suspended indefinitely because of a “personal conduct issue,” the Trojans got handed the business in their second-worst loss of the season. There was a rumor that Porter Jr. may have played his final game with the Trojans, but the freshman took to social media to debunk said speculation. Porter Jr. may have been held out of action against Oregon, but the good news is that he’s back on the floor. Same goes for Elijah Weaver, who also made his return as well. Neither Porter Jr. nor Weaver looked all that impressive in their first games back, but that can be chalked up to rust.

 

  1. Utah (8-8, 2-2) — Previous rank: 8

Opponents: Washington (L, 69-53), Washington State (W, 88-70)

Player of the week: Timmy Allen (11.0 PTS, 10.0 TRB, 3.0 AST, 1.0 BLK) and Both Gach (10.5 PTS, 4.0 TRB, 4.0 AST, 2.0 STL)

 

A very predictable week, all in all. Utah got smacked by Washington, then smacked Washington State. Sedrick Barefield and Donnie Tillman finally came back down to earth after their recent stretch of success, combining to average 16.5 points and only hitting a third of their shots. Timmy Allen and Both Gach continue to provide optimism for the future, showing off their prowess in that point forward role.

 

  1. Colorado (10-6, 1-3) — Previous rank: 10

Opponents: Washington State (W, 92-60), Washington (L, 77-70)

Player of the week: D’Shawn Schwartz (19.0 PTS, 4.5 TRB, 2.5 AST, 2.0 STL)

 

The biggest news for Colorado doesn’t concern its blowout win against Washington State nor its barn burner loss against Washington. McKinley Wright IV, the Buffaloes’ starting point guard, suffered a left shoulder injury against the Huskies. The injury put the fate of the season up in the air, but luckily for Colorado, the injury isn’t expected to be season-ending. That being said, Wright likely won’t be back against Utah, and a clear timeline has yet to be established. With Namon Wright’s health still unclear and his being academically ineligible, freshman Daylen Kountz, who started against Washington State and Washington and is averaging 13.6 minutes per game, will be thrust into a much larger role.

 

  1. Washington State (7-9, 0-3) — Previous rank: 11

Opponents: at Colorado (L, 92-60), at Utah (L, 88-70)

Player of the week: Isaiah Wade (12.0 PTS, 6.5 TRB, 1.0 AST)

 

The reality that is legitimate competition continues to haunt the Cougars. Washington State has now dropped six straight games and hasn’t tasted victory in nearly a month. Conference play has especially been unfriendly for the Cougars, being outscored by about 23 points on average. It’s certainly not helping the Cougars that Robert Franks has missed the last four games with a hip contusion. C.J. Elleby continues to pad his resume for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — he’s one of three freshmen in the nation to average 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists — but he can only do so much on his own.

 

  1. Cal (5-11, 0-4) — Previous rank: 12

Opponents: Arizona State (L, 80-66), Arizona (L, 87-65)

Player of the week: Justice Sueing (17.0 PTS, 6.0 TRB, 1.5 AST, 1.5 STL)
Things continue to snowball for Cal, now the losers of five straight games. The defensive woes have been well-documented, but during this skid, the offense has become increasingly worrisome. With the three-ball not being been there and turnovers beginning to pile up, the Bears are averaging 72 points in their last five and have only eclipsed the 80-point mark once in that stretch. Paris Austin returned from injury against Arizona, but no amount of veteran leadership could have prevented the onslaught. Cal’s best chance to notch its first conference win will come when it plays Washington State on the road. Considering the Bears and Cougars are the two worst teams in the Pac-12, that game will likely solidify which team resides in the basement for the rest of the season.

Justice delos Santos covers men’s basketball. Contact Justice delos Santos at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justdelossantos.