A look at things to watch this week in Pac-12 Conference basketball:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 16 Colorado at No. 17 Oregon, Thursday. The Pac-12 could get a clear front-runner or the conference race could get even more muddled after Thursday’s game. The Buffaloes lead the Pac-12 at 8-3 and the Ducks are a half-game back at 7-4. Colorado is atop the Pac-12 for the first time since 2012 and has its highest ranking since 2014. The Ducks have been ranked 15 straight weeks, the program’s second-longest streak since being in the AP Top 25 19 straight weeks from 2016-17. The point guard match-up between Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV and Oregon Payton Pritchard will be worth watching. Both are on the Bob Cousy Award watch list.
LOOKING AHEAD: It will be a big week for the team behind Colorado and Oregon if they want to remain in the regular-season race. Arizona and Arizona State, both at 6-4, play the Bay Area teams this week. Stanford is 5-5. UCLA and Southern California, both 6-5, head to the Pacific Northwest to play the Washington schools. Washington State is 5-6 with Utah.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Oregon coach Dana Altman has 663 career victories, putting him one behind UCLA’s John Wooden. … Arizona coach Sean Miller earned his 400th career victory with last week’s win over USC. … Washington State’s CJ Ellerby became the first Cougars’ player since Brock Motum in 2012-13 to earn Pac-12 player of the week honors after scoring a career-high 34 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a win over rival Washington.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Brenden Carlson, Utah. The 7-footer was named Pac-12 freshman of the week after averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in a sweep of the Bay Area schools.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: With three weeks left in the regular season, the race to lock up first-round byes in the Pac-12 tournament is heating up. No. 6 USC, in 2009, is the only team outside the top four spots to make it to the championship game. No. 3 Oregon leads the conference at 11-1 and faces the Southern California schools. No. 7 UCLA, tied for second at 10-2, also has to face No. 11 Oregon State, which is 7-5. No. 7 Stanford, also 10-2, faces Colorado, and Utah. No. 12 Arizona, which is just a game ahead of the Beavers at 8-4, hosts the Washington schools.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.
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