1. No. 15 Arizona (20-4, 9-2 Pac-10): This is the latest point in the season that the Wildcats have been atop the Pac-10 since 2005. Arizona’s Pac-10 resume is now looking excellent, its only losses coming at Oregon State in early January (76-75) and at the UW last month (68-85). Guard Lamont Jones — aka MoMo — put up a career-high 27 points in UA’s 107-105 win over Cal and is emerging as a solid scoring option behind star sophomore Derrick Williams.
2. UCLA (16-7, 7-3): The Bruins are on a roll, winning seven of their past eight Pac-10 games, and suddenly find themselves just 1.5 games out of first place. Their 66-59 win over St. John’s last week was impressive, especially considering the fact that St. John’s upset No. 5 Duke one week prior.
3. Cal (13-10, 6-5): That 107-105 thrilling triple-overtime loss to Arizona last week was the definition of a basketball heavyweight bout. It’s unfortunate one team had to lose, and Cal certainly doesn’t take a step back because of the loss. The Bears had won four-straight games prior to that nail-biter and will provide a tough test for the Huskies tonight.
4. Oregon (12-11, 5-6): Dana Altman is doing extraordinary things down there in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks were predicted to win no more than two Pac-10 games this season, and they already have five this year. The Ducks are playing their best basketball of the season right now and are coming off a home sweep of the Washington schools.
5. Washington State (16-7, 6-5): Tough to put these guys below Oregon, but scoring 43 points against a so-so Oregon defense is inexcusable. Still, the Cougars have already matched last season’s conference-win total and have a great chance to add two more wins against the Bay Area schools this weekend at home before WSU visits Arizona next week.
6. Washington (15-7, 7-4): That panic button is becoming bigger and bigger. The Huskies still sit in third place in the conference but have been playing worse than more than half of the Pac-10. With his team on a three-game conference losing streak, head coach Lorenzo Romar said it starts with defense. The UW has given up an average of more than 78 points in the past three losses and will need to step up the defensive pressure if the Huskies figure to climb their way back to the top of the Pac-10.
7. Stanford (12-10, 5-6): Junior Jeremy Green is tearing it up again. Green put up 44 points in two games this weekend and scored a season-high 23 points in Stanford’s 83-75 win over ASU Saturday. A tough weekend awaits the Cardinal this weekend at the Washington schools.
8. Oregon State (9-13, 4-7): The Beavers caught the struggling Huskies at a good time, beating the UW 68-56 this past Thursday at Gil Coliseum. Head coach Craig Robinson’s zone defense isn’t working out too well, though, as OSU still sits at the bottom of the conference, giving up 71.6 points per game.
9. USC (12-11, 4-6): The Trojans have dropped five of seven and managed to score just 50 points — 15 in the second half — in their 64-50 loss to UCLA this past week. Good thing they return home this weekend against the Oregon schools, where they are holding opponents to just 37.5 percent shooting from the field.
10. Arizona State (9-14, 1-10): It is hard to believe this team is on a seven-game Pac-10 losing streak after watching them compete with the Huskies in Seattle, Wash., for most of the game. And they aren’t blown out every game: ASU’s average margin of defeat in the past four games is just 3.2 points.
Reach Sports Editor Taylor Soper at email@example.com.
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