Oregon men at No. 17 Arizona tops the Pac-12 basketball schedule this week
A look at things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Oregon at No. 17 Arizona, Saturday. The Ducks made it to the Final Four a year ago. The Wildcats are hoping to get there this season. Arizona (12-4, 3-1 Pac-12) opened its mountain swing last weekend with a solid win over Utah, but followed that up with an 80-77 loss at Colorado. Coach Sean Miller said after the game he has a hard time reaching the players on this year's team, admonishing their inability to play hard consistently. Expect the Wildcats to play hard against Oregon (11-5, 1-2), which has lost two of three Pac-12 games after a strong nonconference run.
LOOKING AHEAD: Colorado had lost five of six, including its first two Pac-12 games, before pulling off a pair of upsets last weekend. The Buffaloes (10-6, 2-2) knocked off No. 4 Arizona State 90-81 on Thursday, leading to a court-storming by the students, then took down Arizona. Now it's time to see how they respond with a pair of difficult games this week: At USC on Wednesday and at UCLA on Saturday.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 has two of the biggest turnarounds from last season. Oregon State has been the nation's most improved team, at 10-5 after going 5-27 last year. Washington is seventh nationally at 12-4 after going 9-22 a year ago. ... Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton is tied for sixth nationally with 11.6 rebounds per game. ... Washington State is making 11.8 3-pointers per game this season, two more than any other Pac-12 team.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Colorado PG McKinley Wright IV. Wright was not highly recruited out of North Robbinsdale, Minnesota, but has been the glue that's held the Buffaloes together during his first season in Boulder. He's second in the Pac-12 with 5.3 assists per game and was named the conference player of the week after averaging 17.5 points and 7.5 assists to lead Colorado to the upsets over the Arizona schools.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: No. 18 Arizona State faces its most difficult road trip of the season when it plays No. 22 Oregon State on Friday, then at No. 8 Oregon on Sunday. The Sun Devils are tied atop the conference at 4-0 with the Ducks, who are off to their best conference start since 2000-01. ... Washington State's Borislava Hristova was the Pac-12 player of the week after averaging 32.5 points per game last week. ... Colorado is 10th nationally in rebounds with 44.93 per game.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.