Miller: Week 10 Thursday Men’s Hoops Previews

With three games on national TV, the Pac-12 has an opportunity to solidify its reputation

Posted on January 28, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

It’s alive.

Stanford’s victory over UCLA on national television breathed life into the Conference of Champions’ NCAA Tournament expectations. Needing a win to keep the national pundits from relegating the Conference to just four teams, the Cardinal came through.


But as Newton’s law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” On the short end of the basketball laws of physics, the Oregon Ducks are back on a COVID pause.

I am no doctor, but having Chris Duarte and LJ Figueroa on the bench against Oregon State when they had yet to clear their quarantine protocols probably wasn’t the best idea.

But with three games this Thursday on the ESPN and FOX family of networks, the Pac-12 has another opportunity to solidify its reputation as a solid and balanced league. I preview each of those games below.

Oregon State at USC

Thursday, January 28th
2:00 pm PT, ESPNU

Looking to avenge their defeat in Corvallis, the Trojans face the red-hot Beavers at the Galen Center. Evan Mobley scored just twelve points the last time the two teams faced, the second-fewest the projected lottery pick has scored in conference play.

Credit the OSU defense, which held Mobley to just two free throws, negating one of the key aspects of his game. But early in the afternoon on Thursday, Andy Enfield’s game-plan could be to flip the script. And coming off a game against the Bears in which Mobley attempted 15 shots from the charity stripe, it’s no secret what the Trojan offense hopes to do.

usc logoYet, Wayne Tinkle’s team is arguably playing with more confidence than any other program in the Pac-12. With victories over Arizona State, USC, and Oregon, there’s reason for optimism within the Beavers’ locker room. The transfer-heavy roster gets it done in two ways: limiting turnovers and sharing the ball.

With OSU holding an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5 and an average of just 10.8 turnovers per game, the key to a USC win is arguably stout defense and scoring points in transition off of turnovers.

Stanford at Arizona

Thursday, January 28th
7:00 pm PT, ESPN

Jerod Haase confirmed the Cardinal would be without Bryce Wills, Daejon Davis, and Ziaire Williams for their matchup with Arizona at McKale Center. And even though the Tree beat UCLA without the trio, the road game in the desert is a different animal.

Somewhat balancing the scales, Arizona may be without its best freshman, as Bennedict Mathurin suffered an ankle sprain on Monday against the Sun Devils. The wing averages 11.8 points per game, shoots 44.9% from deep, and knocks down 84.3% of his free throws.

Even if Mathurin is able to give it go, Miller has stated he will not start, and it’s fair to guess the Canadian would be on a minutes restriction.

But the battle to watch could be Oscar da Silva against the Arizona defense. Last time out, da Silva scored 21 points and threw down what may be the Dunk of the Year over UA freshman Dalen Terry.

However, the Wildcats have substantially improved since the last matchup on December 19th. The Cats average 80.3 points per game, and Miller hasn’t lost to Stanford at McKale Center during his tenure in Tucson.

California at Arizona State

Thursday, January 28th
8:00 pm PT, FS1

At a crossroads, this game could make-or-break Arizona State’s season.

With arguably four NBA-caliber players in its starting lineup, ASU has yet to truly gel. Remy Martin, Josh Christopher, and Alonzo Verge Jr. are each score-first guards that tend to put up a lot of shots, which sometimes leads to consecutive empty possessions and a loss of momentum.

In fact, the Sun Devils haven’t won a game at home since November 29th and have just a single victory in Tempe this season.

Nobody predicted ASU to struggle the way they have through the first 12 games of the year, but the matchup against the Bears could stop the bleeding. Yet, Matt Bradley has returned to the lineup for Cal, and Mark Fox’s team is playing with chemistry and cohesiveness.

Big-man Grant Anticevich has regained his normal form after his emergency appendectomy caused a three-game stretch of uncharacteristic shooting, while Joel Brown is coming off a career-high 15 points against USC.

Each team wants this one bad, which could result in a down-to-the-wire finish.

—Recent Dane Miller Stories—