San Francisco • The Utes faced this weekend what will likely be its toughest back-to-back test of the season. Stanford and Cal are each 5-1 in Pac-12 play and appear to be the conference's best teams.
The Utes acquitted themselves well on Thursday with a two-point loss against the Cardinal, but fell flat in an 81-45 loss at Cal on Saturday.
So where does that leave the Utes. Are they back at square one?
"I'm not going to make a deal out of it," said Utes' coach Larry Krystkowiak. "This isn't one of those times where we need to have big definitions for the ship is sinking kind of thing"
The Utes got 15 points from senior guard Josh Watkins, who has consistently scored near his average, but Cal coach Mike Montgomery was effusive in his praise for point guard Justin Cobbs, who gave Watkins troubles throughout the night and finished with 14 points and 10 assists of his own.
On the whole, the Utes have a knack for making defenses look good. Against Cal, the Utes went 9:36 in the first half without a field goal.
Stanford 84, Colorado 64 • The Buffaloes entered the week atop the Pac-12 standings, but on the toughest road swing in the conference they were outplayed both at Cal and then against the Cardinal. For the second time this week, the Buffs were very much in the game in the second half, but Stanford went on a 19-3 run after Colorado tied it at 42 with 17 minutes left. Cardinal sophomore Josh Huestis led Stanford for the second straight game, netting 13 points against the Buffaloes.
Oregon 59, Arizona 57 • The Ducks came away from the state of Arizona with their second-ever sweep of the Wildcats and Arizona State. The Wildcats missed three shots on their final possession, blowing an opportunity to fully complete their comeback from an earlier 17-point deficit.
Arizona State 76, Oregon State 66 • Nothing makes less sense in the Pac-12 than Oregon State's fall from trendy preseason dark horse to Superfund team. Of course, Arizona State has had its share of troubles, including losing Trent Lockett Saturday to an ankle injury. But the Sun Devils quickly moved on and picked up their second conference win.
There are two games in the Pac-12 tonight. Washington and Washington State play in Seattle at 5 p.m. MT, while UCLA goes to USC at 7 p.m. Percy Allen of The Seattle Times has a good story about the turf war for recruits between the Emerald State's rivals. In the SoCal game, there's more on the line than just records - which, by the way, aren't very good.
— Bill Oram