The highlight of my weekend was the Oreo’s I bought for my Super Bowl watch. What was yours? Was it when Tyler Dorsey didn’t miss a three? Maybe it was when Jabari Bird dunked away the Utes? Could it have been Lonzo’s outshining of Markelle (kind of)? Perhaps Colorado’s first conference road win in a year (1/23/16 was their last)? You could even be from Massachusetts or simply not from Atlanta?
For me, the Oreo’s were really good. And here’s our podcast on the weekend (not the cookies).
The Ducks didn’t earn the most impressive win of the season but – semantics maybe? – had the most impressive performance. They shot 65% in a critical home game and played aggressive defense. This was the game you dream of your team having in its biggest matchup of the season. It never happens this way except that it did for Oregon. It was so lopsided – and so impressive of a performance – I actually found myself – an Arizona fan as reminder – hoping for another three to be taken. As I noted in this post about zone defense, the game is beautiful when shots are made.
And speaking of shots, Sean Miller’s teams have ranked 16th, 6th, 6th, 1st, 5th, and 30th (hoop-math era dates back to 2012) in forcing the most mid-range jumpers, nationally. Quick review: mid-range jumpers are the longest range, lowest reward (2pt) shots in the game. On Saturday, Oregon attempted just three (3 – and a shoutout to @WillRubin on that).
But that game wasn’t about Arizona. It was about Oregon. The Ducks started the season as the darlings of the west, helped to catapult their neon counterparts (Baylor) to the top of the rankings, dropped one to Georgetown (hope they’re OK) and then disappeared. Not even the UCLA buzzer beater helped them regain their spot amongst – yanno – #1 seeds returning +60% of its minutes. Saturday was Oregon’s public flexing, their reason to be in headlines for makes not flops.
Remaining, Oregon has the conference’s most difficult schedule. While that will make things difficult to win a second consecutive conference title, it has little to do with this team’s ceiling. A ceiling that – as we watched Saturday – can be quite high (but be real, Oregon isn’t shooting 65% against a Top-25 opponent again, they’re not).
Bennie Boatright is back:
Are you an Arizona fan? Do you feel an inexplicable contempt for Dillon Brooks? Allow me:
Unrelated to dopplegangers and maestros of Arizona death, Lauri Markkanen must take more than 5.5 shots per road game. Not should, must.
UCLA posted its best defensive effort of the season over the weekend, a sound 0.80 ppp against Washington. Now, before you poopoo this effort because it’s UW, understand that 1) UCLA’s defense is really bad, 2) It was UW’s worst offensive home performance since March 15, 2015.
Least interesting 8-3 conference team in the country? Conference record comps: Baylor (7-3), Virginia (8-3), Florida State (8-3), Purdue (8-3), Maryland (8-3).
Touted itself as one of the most experienced teams in the conference, if not country, with four seniors. Suspended two of them and lost at Cal.
Losing on a last-second, overtime alley-oop was tough but likely not a reflection of Utah’s long term prospects. And then they lost to Stanford. Without a marquee win on the schedule, and just one opportunity (at Oregon), remaining, this might’ve been a damning weekend for the Utes.
9. Arizona State
10. Washington State
12. Oregon State
Lonzo Ball’s brother – LaMelo – scored 92 points in a high school game last night. The Beavers, in back-to-back games against Oregon and Stanford on 1/14 and 1/19, didn’t achieve that sum, coming up just short with 89 (43 and 46, respectively).