No. 19 USC at Colorado highlights the week in Pac-12 hoops
Things to watch this week in Pac-12 Conference basketball:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 19 Southern California at Colorado, Thursday. The Pac-12 race got a little tighter following the Trojans’ home loss to Arizona last Saturday. USC leads the conference race at 13-3, but is just a half-game ahead of rival UCLA (12-3). The Buffaloes are fourth at 11-6 and are coming off a split with the Oregon schools. Colorado won the first meeting against USC 72-62 at the Galen Center on Dec. 31 and has won five straight in the series.
LOOKING AHEAD: UCLA plays Colorado on Saturday, two days after playing at Utah as the season winds down to its final two weeks. ... Oregon had been on a roll, winning five straight before losing to USC on Monday. The Ducks, third in the Pac-12 at 9-4, play at the Bay Area schools, then have a rescheduled game against Arizona on Monday. Oregon has won six straight in that series. ... The Washington schools are in the desert this week to face Arizona and Arizona State.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 adjusted the conference tournament bracket, giving the top five teams an opening-round bye instead of the top four. The tournament will have 11 teams after Arizona self-imposed a postseason ban. The tournament runs March 10-13 in Las Vegas. ... Arizona’s Azoulas Tubelis was named the Pac-12 freshman of the week after averaging 17 points and 11.5 rebounds in games against USC and UCLA.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Noah Williams, Washington State. The sophomore guard had himself quite a week. Williams had 32 points in a win over California and followed that with 40 points in a triple-overtime win over Stanford to help the Cougars sweep the Bay Area schools for the first time since 2011-12. He was named national and Pac-12 player of the week.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Stanford moved up to No. 4 in this week’s poll and clinched its first regular-season title since 2014 with a 62-48 win over No. 9 Arizona on Monday. The Cardinal host rival Cal on Sunday. ... Arizona and Arizona State resume their rivalry on Sunday. The Wildcats won the first meeting 65-27 on Dec. 10. ... No. 10 UCLA and USC also have a rivalry rematch on Friday. The Bruins won the first meeting 73-52 on Dec. 13.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.
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