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Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews for Feb. 10

WSU-Oregon, UCLA-Cal, and Arizona-Colorado highlight the six games on tap today

Posted on February 10, 2024


  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Pac-12All 12 teams in the Conference are in action today, highlighted by a handful of key matchups.

Washington State takes on Oregon for a battle between second-place teams, Cal looks to complete the season sweep against UCLA on national television, and Colorado hosts No. 8 Arizona for a crucial battle.

I preview all six games here and my picks appear at the bottom.

Washington State at Oregon

Saturday, February 10
2:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

After getting the job done in Corvallis on Thursday, Kyle Smith’s team is presented with a pivotal Quad 1 matchup.

A victory over the Ducks would solidify Washington State’s resume and increase its chances of avoiding the Play-In game on Selection Sunday.

But Oregon is dangerous at home.

Dana Altman’s squad is dealing with injury issues, yet Jermaine Couisnard is one of the top players in the league. He scored 27 points against Washington earlier this week and is the primary threat within the UO offense.

N’Faly Dante is a problem down low, too.

The senior big is hitting 61.4 percent of his shots with 9.2 attempts per game.

And recently Dante has been even more efficient. Over his last six games, Dante is 39-of-56 (68.4 percent) from the field and averaging 16.6 points per contest.

WSU’s Jaylen Wells dropped 24 vs OSU | wsucougars.com

In other words, Oregon has a capable inside-and-out offense.

Do you think that matters to Kyle Smith?

The Cougars have the top field goal percentage defense in the Pac-12 and are an elite rebounding unit.

Wazzu also leads the Conference in turnovers committed per game, creating a perfect blend of analytical strengths that translate on the court.

In plain English, the Cougs force opponents to miss a lot of shots, don’t give up offensive rebounds, and limit opponent possessions by taking care of the ball.

Combined with four starters averaging in double-figures on offense, it’s easy to see why WSU is an NCAA Tournament team.

To beat Oregon, the Cougars must adequately defend the three and dominate the rebounding margin.

UCLA at California

Saturday, February 10
2:30 pm PT, Fox

Welcome to the Big Leagues.

After nearly a decade of irrelevance, California Basketball is back.

Tipping off against rival UCLA on national television with a chance to enter the Top 4 of the Pac-12 standings, this is the moment Bears fans have been waiting for.

There’s one problem: Mick Cronin.

This Bruin team is nowhere near the same group that the Bears beat in Westwood on January 6th. The offense has come alive and its defense has grown even stronger.

Lazar Stefanovic, Dylan Andrews, and Sebastian Mack have all found their rhythm and are getting buckets. Adem Bona remains the consistent rock while Will McClendon has become a more consistent contributor.

UCLA’s Sebastian Mack scored 21 pts vs Stanford | Jeff Chiu/AP

And they are playing with confidence while looking for revenge.

To complete the season sweep, California must win the turnover and rebounding margins. The Bears are a substantially stronger rebounding team but are dead even in TOs committed per game.

The UCLA scheme takes full advantage of opponent mistakes because of the slow pace of the offense. The game is bogged down so much that any extra possessions could be too much to overcome.

Yet, seemingly, as always with California this season, the X-Factor is Jalen Cone. If the guard has a hot shooting night from three, the Bears are almost unbeatable.

And after going 5-for-7 from three on Thursday and 3-for-5 on the road in Tempe, Cone is feeling it.

Look for the home crowd to help the Bears generate an early run that creates some separation. But the game figures to come down to whether or not Cal can maintain its shooting efficiency deep into the second half.

Washington football pac-12Washington at Oregon State

Saturday, February 10
4:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Credit Mike Hopkins’ team for battling back against Oregon on Thursday.

The fact that his players didn’t roll over and go away is a testament to the belief that remains within the roster.

An at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is out of the question, but they can still get there by winning the Pac-12 Tournament.

To do so, seeding is pivotal.

That makes this matchup in Corvallis a key game. The Huskies are currently 10th in the standings but are just two games out from 6th-place.

The Beavers have lost three straight and are vulnerable. Teams have found ways to limit Jordan Pope by forcing the ball out of his hands.

He was averaging over 14 shots per game but has been held to just 24 attempts over the last three contests. To keep him contained, UW can’t play any possessions of zone defense.

Beaver’s Jordan Pope vs WSU | Amanda Loman/AP

Hopkins’ zone always gives up open looks from three and is exploitable through quick ball movement around the perimeter.

Instead, either Koren Johnson or Sahvir Wheeler should be assigned to lock Pope down.

The Beavers do not share the ball very well at all, which should allow the UW players to be aggressive on their help defense.

And on offense, Washington has enough weapons to win the game.

Moses Wood hit key shots on Thursday and can spark a run through his three-point shooting. Braxton Meah should be able to score down low, too, if he stays out of foul trouble.

But the offensive firepower might not matter if Pope is allowed to get going.

Arizona State at Utah

Saturday, February 10
5:00 pm PT, ESPN2

Utah can’t afford to lose this game.

Despite losing three of their last four contests, most bracketologists remain convinced that the Utes are an NCAA Tournament team.

That confidence could be shattered if the Sun Devils leave the Huntsman Center with a win.

Bobby Hurley’s group is on a five-game losing streak and has lost seven of their last eight. Second-leading scorer Jose Perez got benched two games ago and is 1-for-13 from the field over his last two games.

At the same time, the ASU defense has fallen apart. Expected to be the identity of the team, the Sun Devil defense has given up 80 points or more in four of the last five contests.

And they don’t have an answer for Branden Carlson.

Utah’s Branden Carlson scored 27 vs Arizona | Rob Gray/USA TODAY

Playing most of this season at the four spot, Carlson is a matchup nightmare.

With the size of a center and the playing tendencies of a guard, there just isn’t anyone on Hurley’s roster that matches up.

Alonzo Gaffney probably gets the first shot. But like the other potential options, the height advantage they are giving up in the paint is a problem.

Realistically, Carlson could drop 30.

Combined with the development of Keba Keita as one of the top centers in the Pac-12 and ASU’s weaknesses in the frontcourt, the game could get ugly.

To pull off the upset, ASU has to keep the pace slow, defend the three, and compete on the boards. The Sun Devils aren’t going to win a shootout and are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country.

Unless Frankie Collins, Adam Miller, and Perez go off, it seems unlikely that Arizona State finds a way to win.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 8 Arizona at Colorado

Saturday, February 10
7:00 pm PT, ESPN

In one of the Conference’s marquee matchups of the season, No. 8 Arizona takes on Colorado in Boulder.

The Wildcats are 2-11 all-time at Colorado with both of those victories coming in 2014 and 2015. Since then, UA has lost five straight at the CU Events Center.

But none of those teams had Caleb Love.

Despite his inefficient game against Utah, the North Carolina transfer remains the heart of soul of the Arizona roster. He scored 16 against the Buffs earlier this season and tends to thrive in hostile road environments.

The Cats may have lost on the road to Stanford, Washington State, and Oregon State. But all of those were sleepy arenas with not many fans in attendance. For whatever reason, Tommy Lloyd’s teams get up for big games.

And this is undoubtedly a big game.

Arizona beat Duke at Cameron Indoor earlier this year and took down Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena for the first time since 2015.

In other words, UA will come out swinging.

It all starts on defense.

Arizona’s Pelle Larsson had 27 pts vs Utah | Rick Bowmer/AP

KJ Simpson went 5-for-17 in Tucson while Eddie Lampkin Jr. scored just six points. The Buffs were without Cody Williams and Tristan da Silva, but Lloyd knows the key to beating CU is making Simpson inefficient.

Enter KJ Lewis and Jaden Bradley.

The duo have taken Arizona’s defense to another level. Entering the game No. 12 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, this is the strongest defense Lloyd has had since taking over.

With five interchangeable guards that can each play the one, two, or three, the Cats have the pieces to slow down Simpson.

Whether or not they can contain Williams and da Silva is another question.

Keshad Johnson will likely guard da Silva, leaving Pelle Larsson to handle Williams. If the freshman gets the upper hand in that matchup, Colorado will likely win the game.

It’s a personnel chess match that will play out throughout the night.

The Buffs will likely have a run or two in them that could make the difference. But if Arizona is hot from three it could weather the storm and leave with its first win in Boulder in almost a decade.

usc logoUSC at Stanford

Saturday, February 10
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In the thick of the race for a Top 4 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, Stanford can’t afford to lose to USC.

The Tree were handled by the Trojans earlier this season and don’t match up particularly well.

Andy Enfield has enough interior bigs to handle Maxime Raynaud and Brandon Angel. Both players usually present matchup problems against most frontcourts, yet Enfield’s bigs are lankier perimeter defenders.

Josh Morgan, Vincent Iwuchukwu, Arrinten Page, and Kijani Wright are all comfortable defending Raynaud and Angel in the midrange and perimeter.

All four are athletic enough to prevent blow-bys and have the wingspan to adequately contest outside shots.

Angel did have a strong night in the first matchup, but Raynaud struggled.

USC’s Isaiah Collier scored 20 in his return vs Cal | Jed Jacobsohn/AP

Yet, Enfield has been playing his bigs more recently and should have more success keeping Angel contained this time.

The key to a USC win, however, probably is on the other side of the court. Boogie Ellis hasn’t been the same player since returning from injury. His shots aren’t falling and he’s turning the ball over too much.

To beat the Cardinal, he must have an efficient night.

The X-Factor is arguably DJ Rodman.

The wing has played well the last two games and could find himself open on offense. If he is knocking down his threes and playing active on the glass, the Trojans might complete the sweep.


Dane Miller’s Game Picks

2023-24 Week 6 Pac-12 Games


Pick

Washington State at Oregon
Feb 10, 2:00 PM PT
Washington State
UCLA at California
Feb 10, 2:30 PM PT
UCLA
Washington at Oregon State
Feb 10, 4:00 PM PT
Washington football pac-12Washington
Arizona State at Utah
Feb 10, 5:00 PM PT
Utah
Arizona at Colorado
Feb 10, 7:00 PM PT
Arizona football Pac-12Arizona
USC at Stanford
Feb 10, 7:00 PM PT
usc logoUSC
 Overall Record 142-59-0 (71%)



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