Saturday, July 26, 2014
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Just when it appears that you've seen everything in the Pac 10 conference, the defending champion UCLA Bruins remind us that you haven't seen anything yet.

Assumed left for dead in the title race going into No. Cal last weekend, UCLA leaped forged both Arizona State and Cal into second place with just two games remaining before the Pac 10 Tournament.

UCLA survived a scare at Stanford before surviving 76-71 and then beat Cal on national television 72-68 to climb to within 1.5 game of league leading Washington, which can clinch the title with a victory this week.

Just as the Bruins have all but assured themselves of a top six seed in the NCAA tourney in two weeks, the USC Trojans will be fighting for their season this week when the Oregon schools come to town.

Right now the referees are the least of coach Tim Floyd's problems as the Trojans come sputtering home with a 7-9-conference record and 16-12 overall.

Now what the doctor ordered when USC signed NBA lottery project DeMar DeRozan who have averaged 12.5 points this season.

The inconsistent play of leading scorer Dwight Lewis (14.9) and injury to second leading scorer Taj Gibson and the lack of a true point guard has all but eliminated the Trojans from everything of consequence.

Although the fat lady has yet to grab the microphone, USC has lost six of its last seven and seven of it's last 11 games.

Meanwhile, UCLA has improved to 11-5 in conference and 22-7 overall behind the experience and leadership of senior guards Darren Collison and Josh Shipp.

Collison, the Bruins leading scorer at 15 points per outing and Shipp second at 13.4 have will this young and inexperienced team into a lock for the No. 2 seed of the Pac 10 tournament at begins next week.

Collison, who could have been a lottery pick two seasons ago, has been rock solid. He has six games of 20 points or more and leads the team with 5 assist per contest.

Shipp rounding back into form from hip surgery is shooting the long ball with much more accuracy and playing terrific.

The conference is a sure bet to get at least four teams in the big dance with Washington, UCLA, Arizona State and Cal, but beyond those teams only the conference tourney can help.

Coach Ben Howland's bunch could actually slip into the tourney this year under the radar, which is a dangerous catch for any one that might see them.

 

Category: Basketball


 

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