Player of the Week
Louis King, Oregon
6’9 freshman Louis King from Jersey City is this week’s Pac-12 Player of the Week after leading the Ducks to two consecutive blowouts in conference play. He had an exceptional game in the 79-51 blowout against Arizona State Thursday scoring 19 points on 7-12 shooting from the field and 2-6 from downtown. King also recorded two boards, an assist and a steal. At his size, King is a very versatile two-way forward who can also shoot the outside shot. He has done an exceptional job stepping up during the absence of freshman big-man Bol Bol.
King had another solid outing in the Saturday blowout at home against Arizona. He scored 14 points to go with seven boards, one assist, one block, and four steals. King clearly helps his team add a lot of pressure to opposing offenses turning defense into offense. King’s value should also grow as he is only a freshman and making such an impact on both ends of the floor whenever and wherever his team needs his services. If he can improve his shooting from beyond the arc from 35 percent, watch out Pac-12.
Darius McNeill, Cal
The Golden Bears desperately needed somebody to step up and help Justice Sueing and Darius McNeill did just that and more. After going a historically bad 0-15 in conference play, the 6’3 sophomore helped the Golden Bears capture two consecutive wins in conference play this week. After scoring single digits for three consecutive games, McNeill scored 19 points on 6-9 shooting against Washington, the top team in the Pac-12. He shot 4-7 from downtown and recorded a steal. They needed every bit of his efforts as Cal won by a mere three points. Another tough matchup against Washington State proved that the game before wasn’t a fluke. McNeill had 17 points on 8-16 shooting to go with four boards as well as three steals. This young man is clearly talented but if he can consistently put up performances like these in winning efforts, then he certainly deserves some recognition.
The Beavers found themselves on the losing end of two very close games. Thursday Oregon State lost to Arizona by just two points for a number of reasons. Firstly the Beavers will need more than a total of nine bench points for the whole game if they expect to win these conference matchups. Tres Tinkle as well as Ethan Thompson and Stephen Thompson Jr. have been consistently productive all season including this game, but obviously it takes more than three guys to win a basketball game. Kylor Kelley is also an important component of this team, but he can’t score zero points in a game and expect to win, although he impressively recorded five blocks and two steals on the defensive end.
The Beavers had an opportunity Saturday to bounce back against Arizona State and again fell in a close battle 74-71. The trend was similar to the Arizona game with the Beavers only scoring eight bench points. That simply will not cut it in conference play.
Top 5 Games of the Week in the Pac-12
1. Cal Golden Bears def. Washington Huskies 76-73 (2/28)
In a game that may be the biggest upset in Pac-12 conference play this season, Cal who was 0-15 in conference play defeated the Washington Huskies who are way ahead of all the conference competition in the standings. Justice Sueing had a phenomenal all-around performance with 14 points on a near perfect 6-7 shooting. He did just about everything for his team pulling down eight boards, dishing out six assists, as well as recording three steals and two blocked shots. Darius McNeill had a strong contribution as well as 7’3 center Connor Vanover.
2. Arizona Wildcats def. Oregon State Beavers 74-72 (2/28)
A combined 59 points from Tinkle, Thompson, and Thompson Jr. was not enough for the Beavers to capture the win over the Arizona. The difference for Arizona was a combination of shooting nine percent higher from three than Oregon State as well as the bench contributing 29 points. Arizona won the bench scoring battle 29-9. Arizona played much more of a team game with ball movement and everybody getting shot attempts. The trend has been similar for Oregon State all year being top-heavy and having their top three players always doing most of the scoring.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils def. Oregon State Beavers 74-71 (3/3)
Outside of Tres Tinkle and Ethan Thompson combined outside shooting 5-10, the Beavers were very cold from beyond the arc. Arizona State plays a tough brand of defense and it reflected in the overall field goal percentage of the Beavers which was just 39 percent compared to the Sun Devils who shot 40 percent from deep. Freshman guard Luguentz Dort had 20 points shooting 4-6 from downtown and also recorded four boards and two steals. Zylan Cheatham contributed to the Sun Devils efforts with a double-double with 12 points, 10 boards, and a steal and a block. Despite being down seven at halftime, the Sun Devils played a great second half winning it by 10 points, thus winning the game by three points.
4. UCLA Bruins def. USC Trojans 93-88 (2/28)
The Bruins captured their 3rd consecutive win Thursday in a close game against USC and seem to be playing their best basketball at the perfect time. A massive performance out of Bennie Boatwright was not enough to propel USC to a victory. Boatwright had 25 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, as well as a steal and a block. UCLA played in solidarity as a team with five guys scoring in double figures and beat the one man show that was Boatwright. Jaylen Hands was the MVP for UCLA this game as he recorded a double-double with 21 points, 10 assists, three boards and a blocked shot. Hands has been an offensive machine for this team and should be the focal point of any future opponents gameplans against UCLA.
5. Washington Huskies def. Stanford Cardinals 62-61 (3/3)
The Huskies had to bounce back against Stanford after losing to Cal, the worst team in the Pac-12 which was winless until they faced them them Thursday. After being embarrassed by Cal, the Huskies came out on top by just one point against Stanford in a scrappy game. Washington forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over 19 times which they needed every bit of. Despite being outrebounded by Stanford, Washington stayed the course and hung on to win after leading by six at halftime. It will be interesting to see if the Huskies can use this win to build up momentum again like they had throughout the first few weeks of conference play or if they were brought back down to Earth.
Cal Golden Bears def. Washington State Badgers 76-69 (3/2)
The duo of Robert Franks and CJ Elleby, as we’ve seen all season, was excellent in this matchup, but was not enough to get the job done against this rejuvenated Cal team. Both Franks and Elleby recorded double-doubles but Cal did a great job of attacking and getting to the foul line all game. The Golden Bears attempted 26 free throws compared to just 12 by the Badgers. If Cal can get consistent production from the whole lineup like this, they may just keep winning in conference play going deeper into March. This team can go as far as Justice Suing and Darius McNeill can lead it since they have shown they can ban together and beat the top team in the conference.