Dane Miller’s January 14 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews

There's a full slate of Conference basketball action today with six games featuring all 12 teams

Posted on January 14, 2023

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Pac-12There’s a full slate of Pac-12 men’s basketball action today with six games featuring all 12 teams

Arizona State and Arizona look for a sweep of the Oregon schools, while UCLA and USC hope to secure a home stand against the Mountain programs.

I preview all the league’s games here and my picks appear at the bottom.

Arizona State at Oregon State

Saturday, January 14
1:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Seeking just their third road sweep in the Pac-12 since the league expanded in 2011-12, the Sun Devils take on the Beavers for an early-afternoon tip.

Oregon State has a relatively deep frontcourt with numerous options to throw at Bobby Hurley’s team.

Warren Washington is more skilled than any defender Wayne Tinkle can assign to him, but Rodrigue Andela and KC Ibekwe have comparable strength to avoid getting overpowered in the paint.

In a bind, Tinkle could even put Dzmitry Ryuny, Tyler Bilodeau, or Michael Rataj on the ASU center.

But the matchup to watch is Arizona State’s guards against Oregon State’s backcourt.

Sun Devils G Desmond Cambridge Jr vs Oregon | @SunDevilHoops

The Sun Devils lit up Oregon from deep. Yet, the Beavers arguably have a stronger, albeit younger, set of guards to adequately match up with Hurley’s group.

Jordan Pope and Glenn Taylor Jr’s defense on ASU’s sharp-shooting guards figure to be one of the determining factors in the game.

If the Beavers can keep the Sun Devils relatively cold from beyond the arc, Tinkle’s offense may keep them in the game.

Still, ASU has one of the top defenses in the nation and its players are overflowing with confidence.

No. 7 in the nation in Field Goal Percentage Defense, Hurley’s team plays the epitome of “team defense” by actively swarming to the ball inside the perimeter.

Unless Oregon State is hitting its threes, it will probably struggle to score points from two and turn the ball over too many times to get the win.

No. 9 Arizona at Oregon

Saturday, January 14
3:00 pm PT, ESPN

Seeking its first sweep of the Oregon schools since 2009, Arizona brings its high-powered offense to Matthew Knight Arena.

No. 4 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric with the 13th quickest tempo in the country, the Wildcats exploit opponents’ frontcourts with Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo.

Dana Altman can put N’Faly Dante on Ballo for a relatively even matchup, but the future Hall of Fame coach doesn’t have an immediate answer for Tubelis.

The Lithuanian power forward leads the Conference in scoring and Kel’el Ware is a bit undersized to adequately match up. That leaves either Nate Bittle, Quincy Guerrier, or Lok Wur to guard one of the best players in the country.

The mismatch is concerning and Tommy Lloyd promises to take full advantage.

Ducks C N’Faly Dante vs ASU | Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard

But Arizona’s efficiency is hampered when its guards are struggling. Courtney Ramey has been in a funk for several games and Pelle Larsson is cold from three.

If the Ducks force the two players, along with Kerr Kriisa, to be inefficient from the field they have a much stronger chance of beating the Wildcats.

At the same time, Ballo isn’t shooting the ball as well as he was earlier in the year. If Altman can keep UA’s primary center relatively inefficient, his team will be better off.

But the defense Oregon plays on the Cats’ personnel could be meaningless if its offense struggles the way it did on Thursday.

Will Richardson and N’Faly Dante have been consistent, but UO will need additional players to get buckets in order to avoid getting swept at home.

In that sense, the production and efficiency of Arizona’s defense is the X-Factor that might determine the outcome.

California at WashingtonWashington football pac-12

Saturday, January 14
3:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Coming off what might have been their best game of the season, the Dawgs look to continue the momentum against California.

Mark Fox’s team has begun to turn a corner with the debut of DeJuan Clayton while Kuany Kuany is one of the most improved players in the Pac-12. And the Bears as a group are capable of getting hot from three.

But Washington has fully adjusted to the loss of Franck Kepnang, and key freshman Koren Johnson has returned to the line up after missing two games.

Anchored in the paint by Braxton Meah, the Huskies live and die by momentum swings.

If the UW defense starts the game strong and its offense hits shots, Mike Hopkins’ group plays with much higher intensity. But if his guys can’t score to start a game and the zone is getting exploited, his team collapses and becomes ineffective.

Cal forward Kuany Kuany vs WSU | Young Kwak/AP

The key for California is hitting its mid-range shots and open looks from the three.

With proper ball movement, the UW zone gives up plenty of open looks from the perimeter and will always have a soft spot for a two-point attempt outside of the paint.

It also regularly gives up offensive rebounds that opponents can take advantage of.

Still, if the Bears fail to move the ball quickly and rely on dribbling to find open space, the Husky defenders will block shots and create turnovers from the opening tip.

It might be a closer game than some expect, but Washington should hit enough shots from three to win the game.

Colorado at No. 7 UCLA

Saturday, January 14
5:00 pm PT, FOX

In control of the Pac-12 standings, No. 7 UCLA hosts a Colorado team that’s 2-7 at Pauley Pavilion since joining the Conference of Champions.

Adem Bona is a concerning matchup for Lawson Lovering and the Buffs don’t have a second option to defend the Bruin big. Tristan da Silva, though, might be a problem for Mick Cronin.

The 6-foot-9 forward has a height advantage over Jaime Jaquez Jr. and is skilled enough to go toe-to-toe with UCLA’s leading scorer.

KJ Simpson is a scoring machine, too, although Cronin could assign Jaylen Clark to slow him down.

Bruin F Adem Bona vs Utah | AP Photo via Toronto Star

Realistically, Colorado turns the ball over far too often to walk away from Pauley with a win.

The Buffs committed 21 turnovers against the Trojans while only generating nine. Meanwhile, UCLA is No. 5 in the nation in turnovers per game, No. 25 in TO’s forced per game, and No. 4 in turnover margin.

That’s a recipe for disaster that Tad Boyle could struggle to overcome.

Outside shooting can always change a game, yet the Buffs are 247th in three-point shooting percentage. It’s an analytical matchup nightmare for CU.

Still, if Boyle’s defense can hamper Jaquez and both Simpson and da Silva go off, his team could secure an upset victory.

In all likelihood, however, UCLA utilizes its strong defense to create turnovers and its elite offense to score from every corner of the floor from the opening possession.

Stanford at Washington State

Saturday, January 14
5:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The definition of insanity is doing the same action over and over while expecting a different result.

The Cardinal enter the matchup with Washington State on a six-game conference losing streak and a 5-11 overall record. Considering the talent on the roster, the performance of this year’s team is woefully inadequate.

Harrison Ingram may be battling through the traditional sophomore slump, but Jerod Haase has numerous other weapons at his disposal that should be producing wins.

Maxime Raynaud is one of the most unique players in the Pac-12 and Spencer Jones would start on most other rosters in the league.

Yet, the Tree aren’t able to put it together.

Cougar F DJ Rodman vs Cal | The Seattle Times

Facing a Washington State group that is on a warpath to be a bubble team, Stanford is at risk of getting swept on the road by the Washington schools for the first time since 2012.

The Cougars are led by TJ Bamba and Mouhamed Gueye. Skilled in the paint and along the perimeter, WSU has the personnel to do damage in the Conference.

DJ Rodman has been shooting lights-out from three while Jabe Mullins is No. 3 in the nation in three-point percentage.

The Cardinal must find a way to stop both the interior and perimeter scoring threats that Kyle Smith has while getting scoring production outside of Jones.

If Stanford keeps its turnovers below its average while exceeding its 30.8 percent three-point shooting mark, Haase’s group could find a way to secure the upset.

Utah at USC

Saturday, January 14
7:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In a game that should have been picked up by FS1 or ESPN, the Utes look to avoid a sweep by the L.A. schools.

The status of Branden Carlson is questionable and the Utes have lost three straight at the Galen Center by an average of 14.0 points.

If Utah’s leading scorer can’t go, Craig Smith has a gaping hole in his frontcourt’s defense.

Joshua Morgan could have a productive night in the paint along with a combination of Kijani Wright, Harrison Hornery, and Vincent Iwuchukwu.

But USC is primarily guard-based this season and its offense flows through its perimeter players. In that sense, the Utes have adequate personnel to match up with the Trojans and are a superior defensive team.

Trojan G Boogie Ellis vs Colorado | uscathletics.com

Rollie Worster was neutralized by UCLA, though, limited to just one assist and a single rebound. That can’t happen again or UU’s offense might struggle to eclipse 50 points.

Still, Utah wins games through the play of its defense. The Utes are 8-2 when they hold their opponents to 65 points or less and 4-4 when allowing more than 65 points.

Slowing down Boogie Ellis and Drew Petersen, then, will be high on Smith’s game plan. The duo is the lone USC pair averaging in double figures and Andy Enfield’s team lives and dies by their production.

Petersen also leads the team with 5.0 assists per game, arguably making him the focal point of Utah’s defensive strategy. If Peterson is hampered throughout the night, Utah should like its chances.

Our Senior Writers’ Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—