It will be the biggest game in the Pac-12 Conference so far this season. And maybe, just maybe, Colorado is catching the Oregon Ducks at the right time.
CU’s recent surge, with wins in three consecutive games and in five of the past six, has coincided with a slide by the Ducks, who also have dealt with some manpower issues of late.
Saturday’s comeback victory by the Buffs, combined with Oregon’s loss at Oregon State, put CU in sole possession of first place atop the Pac-12 standings for the first time this season. On Monday, the Buffs leapfrogged Oregon in the weekly AP Top 25, jumping from No. 24 to No. 16 while Oregon fell three spots to No. 17. It is the first time the Buffs have been the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12.
More importantly, the Buffs begin the week at No. 16 in the NET rankings, with Oregon starting the week at No. 25.
The Ducks have played the past five games without 6-foot-11 freshman forward N’Faly Dante, who is dealing with a knee injury. Oregon also faced the Beavers without forward Francis Okoro, who was out of the country for the funeral of his father but is expected to be back in the mix when the Buffs visit.
Oregon’s loss at Oregon State followed the reverse script of CU’s comeback against Stanford, as the Ducks squandered a 10-point lead in the second half and at one point missed 10 consecutive field goal attempts.
“We’ve gotta get better inside at finishing, as guards,” Oregon guard Payton Pritchard told reporters afterward. “I think our shooting will come, but we’ve got to get in the paint more.”
A career day gave Washington State sophomore CJ Elleby his second Player of the Week honor of the season.
Elleby poured in a career-high 34 points to lead the Cougars’ win against state rival Washington. Elleby went 9-for-16 overall, knocking down a career-best six 3-pointers and finishing 10-for-10 at the free throw line. Elleby also grabbed 10 rebounds to post his fourth double-double of the season and matched a career-high three blocked shots.
Elleby became the first WSU player to earn multiple Player of the Week awards since Brock Motum during the 2012-13 season.
Utah’s Brenden Carlson was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after helping the Utes to a home sweep of Stanford and Cal. Carlson was particularly dominant in Utah’s win against Stanford, posting his first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and he also added eight blocked shots. The eight blocked shots are the most by a freshman in the nation this season. Carlson shot 8-for-17 in the two games.
On Monday, a Stanford official said Oscar da Silva, who suffered a head laceration in an ugly collision Saturday with CU’s Evan Battey, still is being evaluated by the Cardinal’s medical personnel. His status remains uncertain for Stanford’s home games this week against Arizona State and Arizona…After losing at home against UCLA, Arizona dropped out of this week’s AP Top 25. The Wildcats were ranked 23rd last week…The Pac-12 NET rankings as of Monday: Arizona (10), Colorado (16), Oregon (25), Stanford (30), USC (47), Arizona State (54), Washington (60), Oregon State (67), Utah (70), UCLA (99), Washington State (106), Cal (151).