Today in the bag, I'm wrapping the game with Utah, taking a look at how the rest of the Pac-12 fared, and touching on last night's national championship.
Click below for the bag...
Buffs blow golden opportunity, fall to Utes -
*Bounce-bounce*... *bounce*... *bounce*... *falls in*
The Colorado Buffaloes had been playing the Utah Utes near-perfectly Friday night. In front of a really nice crowd, they had all but eliminated positive contributions from the Utes' superstar center, Jakob Poeltl, were enjoying a strong scoring performance from George King, and had leveraged #TadBall (+6 on the boards, Utah shot barely over 40%) into a seven point lead with five minutes to play. But, down the stretch, just as we had seen against SMU and Stanford, the Buffs just stopped scoring, committed too many turnovers, and ran out of gas. When a broken kickout handed Utah the final possession hammer in a tie game, I think everyone knew what was coming. The follow-up floater from Utah's Lorezo Bonam lived on the rim, but eventually fell to seal Colorado's 56-54 loss. It's CU's fourth straight loss to their regional rival; the haunting stuff of nightmares.
|*Stream of unintelligible swearing* From: the Deseret News|
Bonam's heroics wasted a hell of an effort by Josh Scott and Tory Miller to all but erase future NBA lottery pick Jakob Poeltl inside. Poeltl, who had come in shooting damn near 70% from the field on the year, only made two of eight attempts on the day, and went into the halftime locker room without a point scored. Scott and Miller pushed the Austrian import around, making him work for even the easy looks, and it paid off. It helped that Poeltl missed a few bunnies, and that the refs lost their whistles for most of the evening (other than the odd moment when Verne Harris felt he needed the spotlight back on a clean Wes Gordon block), but all credit to the pair for doing the dirty work inside; Jakob looked exhausted and frustrated for most of the evening. Scott would finish with a solid 10/10 double-double for his troubles.
|J40 had made Poeltl's life a living hell in the paint. From: the Washington Post|
Before we all over-react too much, this isn't a season-ruining loss, as the rest of the league exists in turmoil. However, Colorado missed a golden opportunity to step over the Utes' sinking ship and into the driver's seat for a top-four finish. Into the final media timeout, this was CU's game to lose, and they did. It's a fact that the team will come to rue come March, much to my chagrin. Cest la vie.
Around the world of Pac-12 Hoops -
USC 103 - Arizona 101 -
The undisputed winner of the weekend was USC. Not only did they sweep their pair of games (a prerequisite for such a crown), but they proved, at least to me, that they are for real. For weeks, their top-25 RPI had seemed soft. Surely, these Trojans, who had been a true doormat for the last four years, were ready for a collapse once conference play hit, right? Nope, not if Julian Jacobs has anything to say about it. Leading Southern Cal to a big win over the UofA - in four overtimes, no less - Jacobs and his 13/5/6 averages threw his hat into the Player of the Year ring. In a season where every Pac-12 game is apparently one giant coin flip, that the Trojans are still floating along speaks volumes. I'm starting to believe.
|Jacobs has the Trojans flying high. From: CBS Sports|
UCLA 81 - ASU 74 -
A close runner-up to the Trojans for the title of 'weekend's best' were the crosstown rival Bruins. They also earned a sweep of the Arizona schools, capping the set with a hardscrabble win over the Sun Devils. Isaac Hamilton scored a game-high 26 in this one, and continues to power the UCLA attack, who, after a rough first weekend in Washington, may be in the best shape of any of the preseason favorites. They're going to have to prove it on the road, though. After this week's battle with the Trojans, the following road trip up the coast to the Oregons will go a long way to determining just how serious UCLA will be in the hunt for the league crown.
|UCLA bounces back from a rough opening weekend. From: AZCentral.com|
Washington 99 - Washington State 95 -
Speaking of the Cougars... how 'bout them Washington Huskies! With an Apple Cup win, they remain the only undefeated team in the Pac-12, defying all manner of expectations. Andrew Andrews, again, had a massive night, dropping 29/10/7. The kid can flat fill it up, averaging just under 30 points per game early on in league action. As he goes, so will UW, and, so far, that has put them in a pretty strong position. Check back after Thursday's tilt with Arizona, though...
|Andrews is a particularly nasty scoring threat this season. From: the Seattle Times|
Oregon State 77 - Cal 71 -
In retrospect, maybe the furor over Cal's two sparkling efforts on home hardwood was over-hyped. Their travels north to Oregon and Oregon State over the weekend did not go well, culminating in two losses that sent them tumbling back down the mountain into the mucky middle. There's no shame in losing on the road, believe me, but I was expecting at least a split on this trip if they really were going to take control of this league.
|GPII and the Beavers were able to hold Rabb and the Bears at bay. From: the Statesman Journal|
Buffs add blue-chip talent under center -
Stuck in the aftermath malaise of another late Colorado basketball collapse (three in four games now, though one of those was a win over Stanford), I turn, weirdly, to the football program for comfort food. And just what are they dishing up this week? Why, an incoming four-star QB transfer, of all things!
|Jones looks to push for starting time in two years. From: Bleacher Report.|
It's a timeline that makes sense, in light of Sefo Liufau's final year of eligibility, to be bringing in a lot of fresh blood to refill the most important position on the field. Between Jones, then-reshirt sophomore Steve Montez, the returning Cade Apsay, and incoming freshman QB Sam Noyer, the Buffs could have one hell of a QB competition brewing by the start of fall camp 2017.