Player of the Week

Derrick White, Guard (Colorado)

Derrick WhiteDerrick WhiteIt was a miserable start to conference play for Colorado, but after a seven game skid, the Buffaloes came out on top in both of their games this week, including a huge upset win over No. 10 ranked Oregon. Colorado made a strong showing during non-conference play, and after an 0-7 start to Pac-12 play, this win was much needed. Derrick White once again led the charge, scoring 23 points, four assists and five rebounds. The 6-foot-5 senior combo guard has been one of the more overlooked players in the conference all season, but he can play with the best of them. He’s also performed at a very high level in big games. Against ranked opponents, White is averaging 16.5 points per game and has eclipsed 20 points three times. As a junior college transfer, White was lauded for his versatility, and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s not only averaging over 16 points per contest this season, but he’s also an underrated passer and rebounder. He’s also shooting a solid 48% from the field and making 37% of his threes. Colorado dug themselves in a pretty deep hole after their 0-7 start in Pac-12 play, but this week was a step in the right direction. They’ll need a few more big performances from White if they expected to climb back in the hunt for an NCAA tournament bid. He also shows the type of versatility that should get him looks at the next level.

Who’s Hot?

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona is now 19-2 on the season and has gotten off to an 8-0 start in conference play. After the Oregon loss, they are now the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 and are in sole possession of first place. People knew Sean Miller was a great coach coming into this year, but he’s establishing himself as one of the elites in the game with the way he’s managed his team this season. Despite arguably their best offensive player, Alonzo Trier, missing the first two months of the season, they still looked like a respectable team. Now that he’s back in the rotation their dangerous. Furthermore, not many people expected Lauri Markkanen to emerge the way he has. The freshman big man out of Finland continues to get better and show off his unique skillset. Over the last few weeks he’s made a strong case for conference player of the year, not to mention his draft stock is continuing to rise as well. Kadeem Allen and [Player: Parker Jackson-Cartwright] have also been solid playmakers in the backcourt along with the Wildcats’ two other five-star freshmen in Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons. Arizona has simply been on a tear and they’re only get better as the regular season winds down.

Who’s Not?

Tyler Dorsey, Guard (Oregon)

Dorsey was expected to take a big leap forward this season after showing much potential in his freshman campaign. However, he’s regressed almost everywhere since last year. His down numbers may be a result of added depth to the Oregon roster this season, but he’s been less efficient too. Dorsey really struggled in the Ducks’ two games this week, particularly in the upset loss against Colorado. The sophomore guard shot just 4-12 from the field on Saturday including just 1-7 from three-point range. He’s now made just five of his last eighteen shots from the field and only one of his last nine threes. On the season, he’s shooting 43% from the field and 37% from three, which are both down from last season. He’s also shooting worse from the charity stripe this season, which has also been an issue at times for the whole team. The talent is there for Dorsey, but he needs to be more consistent. Oregon had lofty expectations at the beginning of the season. They still have a chance to win the Pac-12 and potentially be a final four team, but Dorsey will have to step it up a notch if they are replicate their success from a year ago.

Updated Power Rankings

1. Arizona

Arizona has established themselves as the new favorite to win the conference after their outstanding play in the last couple of weeks. After a win on the road at USC, a marvelous win at UCLA, and then a thumping of Washington State, Arizona looks like the real deal. The Wildcats are probably the best defensive team in the Pac-12, and now at full strength, they’ll be more explosive offensively and be extremely tough to beat. (See above)

2.Oregon

The loss to Colorado may look bad on paper, but Colorado is a much better basketball team than their 0-7 start in conference play indicates. Oregon is also terrific defensively and have a lot of balance on offense. However, for them to meet expectations, they’ll need more consistency on offense from guys outside of Dillon Brooks.

3. UCLA

UCLA looked almost unbeatable to begin the season due to their hypersonic offense, but they have started to cool off a bit. We’ve learned from their three losses in conference play that they won’t be able to outscore everyone every single game. The Bruins have as much talent and skill as any team in college basketball, but they have got to be more committed on the defensive end for their Pac-12 title and hopes of a deep tournament run to come to fruition. If they can improve defensively, there aren’t many teams in the country who can challenge them.

4. USC

The Trojans have been difficult to figure out this season. First they went undefeated in non-conference play and caught everyone’s attention. Then they got blown out by Oregon and Utah and were hit with the overrated label. Then this week they made a statement with a big win at home against Los Angeles rival UCLA. A lot of people don’t realize how athletic and quick the Trojans are. In that regard, there may not be a team in the Pac-12, other than Arizona, who match their athleticism. That’s helped them blossom into a really tough defensive team. The key for them in consistency on offense. They don’t shoot the ball great from deep, but when they’re making perimeter shots, they can be dangerous. Also, Bennie Boatwright is expected to return in the near future, which will help them in that area.

5. Utah

The Utes have quietly been one of the better teams in the conference, jumping out to a 6-3 start in Pac-12 play. They’ve won games their supposed to win, but their three losses were to the conference’s top teams. They could definitely challenge for the Pac-12 crown, but they need to show that they can win against top competition.

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