Player of the Week
Reeves Nelson led UCLA to a 86-79 victory in the John R. Wooden Classic over a previously unbeaten team from the Mountain West Conference. UCLA knocked off their first ranked opponent of the season in large part due to the play of Nelson. He connected on 8 of 15 of his shots from the floor for 23 points while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists. The Bruins took a 43-37 lead into the break, but Tyler Honeycutt, Lazeric Jones and Joshua Smith all proceeded to pick up quick fouls early in the second half. With Honeycutt, Jones and Smith on the bench Nelson led the way with productive off ball movement culminating in driving cuts to the basket. Nelson has recorded four double-double performances this season and has scored over twenty points in four times.
The Pac-10 Conference has a record of 53-13 against teams with a RPI ranking between 101 and 345. If USC and Oregon State are excluded the combined record improves to 44-3. USC’s situation likely resolved itself with the addition of Jio Fontan, so that leaves Oregon State to worry about. The Beavers are huge disappointments again this season and honestly deserve to be in the “Cold” portion of this blog every week. Ultimately, the Pac-10 Conference has won the games they were expected to win with only a few exceptions. USC and Washington State are in position to close out non-conference play on a high note and California and Stanford could give the conference a huge boost with upsets this week. Incidentally, the Pac-10 is 7-0 against schools with hyphenated names and are 5-0 against directional schools.
The Pac-10 Conference struggled against good teams a year ago and that trend is continuing again this season. Although, most of the Pac-10 teams are taking care of business against sub 100 RPI opposition, the conference as a whole remains anemic against the nation’s elites. UCLA’s win last Saturday is the Pac-10’s lone victory over an opponent with an RPI inside the Top 10. The conference is 2-10 against Top 25 RPI opponents and 5-15 against teams with a RPI of 50 or better. Six of those 15 losses have come to the Big XII Conference. Kansas alone is responsible for three of the defeats and the Jayhawks could make it four with a win Tuesday in Berkeley against the Bears. Many Pac-10 fans believe an “East coast bias” exists from the national media and it’s difficult to dispute that claim, but until the Pac-10 can improve its performance against the nation’s top teams it’s a moot point.
Top 5 Sophomore Production in the Pac-10
1. Derrick Williams (Arizona) 19.5 points / 6.8 rebounds / 0.9 assists
* Williams has carried the Wildcats to their 10-2 record. He’s the only Arizona player scoring in double figures, leads the team in rebounding, blocked shots and is tied for the team lead in steals. Plus, his shooting percentages are off the charts (63.4% FG / 70.6% 3PT / 80.8% FT)
2. Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA) 15.5 points / 8.4 rebounds / 2.7 assists
* The talent level in the Pac-10 is on the rise and Honeycutt is among those leading the resurgence. His performance against Kansas showed his wide array of talents and his ability to fill a stat sheet. He has NBA length and could be the first Pac-10 player selected in the 2011 NBA Draft.
3. Trent Lockett (Arizona State) 15.6 points / 6.9 rebounds / 3.0 assists
* Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks garnered most of the pre-season attention, but it’s been Lockett who’s led the way for ASU. Lockett is leading the Sun Devils in scoring and is second on the team in both rebounds and assists.
4. Reeves Nelson (UCLA) 14.7 points / 7.9 rebounds / 2.0 assists
* Nelson’s offensive skill set frequently gets over-looked because of his rugged demeanor. He’s capable of scoring from the paint and the perimeter. He rebounds well and does the majority of the dirty work for the Bruins. His emotion and aggressiveness are invaluable to UCLA.
5. EJ Singler (Oregon) 12.4 points / 6.5 rebounds / 1.3 assists
* Singler is Oregon’s second leading scorer and rebounder and is shooting the ball efficiently in each phase of the game (55.6% FG / 50.0% 3PT / 81.6% FT). The Ducks need Singler to continue his solid play as the Pac-10 schedule approaches.
Others Receiving Votes
6. Abdul Gaddy (Washington) 10.2 points / 2.2 rebounds / 4.2 assists
7. Jared Cunningham (Oregon State) 12.5 points / 2.7 rebounds / 2.0 assists
8. Solomon Hill (Arizona) 8.6 points / 4.8 rebounds / 2.3 assists
9. Joe Burton (Oregon State) 8.1 points / 5.5 rebounds / 3.0 assists
10. Reggie Moore (Washington State) 8.2 points / 2.0 rebounds / 4.2 assists
Upcoming Games of Interest
12.22.2010 California vs. Kansas
12.22.2010 Washington State vs. Mississippi State
*Washington State could have subsequent marquee games with wins in the Diamond Head Classic.
Results of Interest
12.17.2010 Oregon 48 Virginia 63
12.18.2010 USC 68 Kansas 70
12.18.2010 UCLA 86 Brigham Young 79
12.18.2010 Stanford 50 Butler 83
12.19.2010 Arizona 72 North Carolina State 62