Player of the Week
The playmaking sophomore has been a leader for this Colorado team all season. On February 9th in the road win over USC, Wright scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting to go with his eight boards and three assists. Standing just 6’0 tall, it just goes to show how aggressive and fearless this young man is averaging just under 5 rebounds per game. At 200 lbs, Wright is a solid 6’0 tall and won’t be pushed around easily by bigger guards.
Wright also helped the Buffaloes capture their fourth consecutive win Wednesday, over Arizona State 77-73. Wright again had a very efficient performance dropping 24 points on 9-12 shooting from the field. Wright continued to show he can contribute in every aspect of the game as he recorded six boards, eight assists, and a steal. This young man will be a commodity for NBA squads who need a floor general who is capable of scoring the ball whenever needed, especially if his outside shooting improves from 30 percent.
The Utes are currently tied for second place in the Pac-12 and appear to have the strongest chance to take Washington’s place at the top after two consecutive conference victories. This team showed its ability to battle back in the second half of a game against UCLA in the 93-92 victory on February 9th. The Bruins were leading by 17 points at halftime and the Utes battled back in the second half to capture the one-point win.
Timmy Allen had an excellent game scoring 22 on a near perfect 9-11 shooting. He also added seven boards, three dimes to go with his 22. Freshman Riley Battin also had a strong all-around performance with 18 points, eight rebounds, 2 assists and three steals. Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke also had major contributions deserving of mentioning. Barefield scored 19 to go with his seven assists and 4-8 shooting from downtown. Van Dyke was able to score 15 off the bench on 5-10 shooting from beyond the arc to go with his four assists and steal. With all hands on deck similar to the win over UCLA, the sky seems to be the limit for this Utah team currently in second place.
There is cold. Then there is freezing. After that there is the Cal Golden Bears who has lost their last 13 consecutive games. This team might just need one victory to turn things around and experience a confidence boost. Cal fell to Oregon State 79-71 on February 9th. Cal was in the game as they are in most games but just could not close. Although three players scored at least 15 for Cal, it proved to not be enough to take down the Beavers. Two statistics that may have made the difference are Cal losing the shooting percentage battle by five percent as well as the rebounding battle by five rebounds. Cal had a good opportunity to capture its first win since December 21st against UCLA Wednesday. Cal took UCLA to overtime and had every chance to win the game but ultimately lost because Kris Wilkes was able to get anything he wanted against the Golden Bear defense.
Top 5 Scorers in the Pac-12
1. Robert Franks, Washington State
Franks, the 6’9 senior, leads the whole Pac-12 in scoring with averaging over two points per game more than anyone else. At 22.6 points per game, every team’s game-plan against Washington State must begin with trying to slow down Franks. This forward can do it all on the offensive end and is the main reason Washington State has any conference wins. Franks scored a cool 31 on February 9th at Arizona sinking 7-9 3-pointers. With exception to CJ Elleby, Robert Franks carries just about the whole scoring load for this Cougar squad.
2. Tres Tinkle, Oregon State
Tinkle has been a constant for this Beaver team for four years now. He is one of the top producing players in the Pac-12 averaging over 20 points per game, nearly eight rebounds and four assists. In the overtime victory over Cal, Tinkle had 19 points on 6-11 shooting and 2-4 from downtown. It is also worth noting he shot 100 percent from the foul line. Tinkle is able to score from just about anywhere on the court for his team and it is a huge reason his team is 7-4 in conference play.
3. Kris Wilkes, UCLA
Wilkes showed up huge for the Bruins offensively in a game they could not afford to lose against Cal. After suffering three losses in a row, the Bruins were in jeopardy of losing a fourth in a row and to the worst team in the Pac-12 in overtime. Wilkes had other plans as he recorded an impressive double-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and a steal. He shot an efficient 9-15 from the field and an even more efficient 5-8 from 3-point range. At 6’8, Wilkes is a very valuable prospect as he can score both inside and out depending on how his teammates are performing and what type of defense he is facing.
4. Jaylen Nowell, Washington
Nowell had been a consistent scorer for this Husky team throughout its 13-game winning streak. Washington may have finally ended its streak Saturday at Arizona State but Nowell continued his offensive consistency with 15 points and 2-4 shooting from downtown. Nowell is the sixth leading scorer in the Pac-12 this season and shoots over 51 percent from the field. Even more impressively, he shoots 44.9 percent from 3-point range.
5. KZ Okpala, Stanford
The 6’9 sophomore has shown he can put up huge scoring performances but just needs to be a little more consistent with it. Okpala averages 17.4 points per contest which is fifth in the Pac-12. Okpala is a strong defensive player as well, especially given his size, but if he can improve his outside shooting he’d be among the top few offensive players in the conference. He had 18 points in a 79-76 Stanford win over USC Wednesday on 7-19 shooting. It is also worth noting that his defense turns into points on the other end thanks to his four steals in the game.