Dane Miller’s Jan 26 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview

Posted on January 25, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

The Pac-12 settled two men’s basketball makeup games on Tuesday when Colorado defeated Oregon and No. 7 UCLA got the best of No. 3 Arizona.

You’ll find the results and updated standings here.

Today’s game features a rematch between Utah and Washington State.

As always, my picks and Stephen Vilardo’s appear at the bottom.

Utah at Washington State

Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA
Wednesday, January 26
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Returning from another COVID pause, Washington State takes on Utah in tonight’s lone Pac-12 matchup.

The Utes played to their potential at home against UCLA last week, flashing the ceiling of Craig Smith’s team in 2021-22.

Yet, bringing the show on the road is the difference between middling and elite teams.

The Utes are an astonishing 3-23 outside of Salt Lake City since opening the 2019 season with a victory in Reno over Nevada.

To turn the tide away from home, Utah must hit its outside shots and limit turnovers. UU shoots 33.8 percent from deep this year while turning the ball over 12.6 times per game.

WSU’s Noah Williams | Rick Scuteri/AP

Limiting extra possessions for the Cougars and capitalizing on looks from three are the tried-and-true ways to win on the road. But it’s easier said than done.

Washington State has size inside that figures to prevent easy looks in the paint, and depth in the backcourt to deal with foul trouble.

That allows Kyle Smith’s team to play aggressively, with WSU holding the fourth-best defense in the Pac-12 according to the KenPom rankings.

And playing against one of the slower tempo teams in the country (Utah is 245th out of 350), the Cougs should utilize their defense to generate enough offense to emerge with the win.

January 25 Previews
Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Colorado at Oregon

Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
Tuesday, January 25
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The Ducks are on a six-game winning streak and on track to make the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time during the Dana Altman era.

Will Richardson is averaging 20.0 points per game over the stretch, leading Oregon to fourth-place in the Pac-12 standings.

The Buffs, on the other hand, have lost three of their last four matchups and slipped to seventh with a .500 mark in conference play.

At 1-7 in Eugene since 2011, Colorado needs a productive night from Jabari Walker and Evan Battey.

Colorado’s KJ Simpson | Cliff Grassmick/Colorado Daily

True freshman guard K.J. Simpson has made his case to take over the starting role from Keeshawn Barthelemy, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Simpson gets the nod.

He will have to contend with Altman’s press, which often forces opponents to use wings to advance the ball beyond mid-court.

That could create problems for Tad Boyle’s team that already struggles to take care of the ball. With 13.8 turnovers committed per game, the inexperience on the Buffaloes’ roster could be exploited by the Ducks.

If CU commits turnovers early in the game, Oregon could get hot from deep with transition threes and confident treys in half-court sets.

If that happens, this matchup might get out of hand by the middle of the first half.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 3 Arizona at No. 7 UCLA

Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, January 25
8:00 pm PT, ESPN

For just the second time in the Pac-12 Era, Arizona and UCLA face off at Pauley Pavilion when both teams are ranked.

The Wildcats beat the Bruins last time it happened, an 11-point victory in 2018 when UCLA was No. 3 and Arizona was No. 14.

But the two programs have split the four matchups since 2011 when both were ranked, setting the table for the rubber match at the start of the new decade.

UCLA has won five straight in the series, signifying the downturn of Arizona’s program at the end of the Sean Miller era.

Yet, it’s a new day in the desert, and Tommy Lloyd’s system is a night and day change from Miller. The UA offense no longer requires a dominant guard and set plays from its head coach.

UCLA’s Jules Bernard and Jaylen Clark | David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Instead, it’s a free-flowing, high-paced scheme that emphasizes transition opportunities and ball movement around the perimeter.

With a variety of players to beat opponents in multiple ways, Arizona can score points in the paint with Christian Koloko, Oumar Ballo, and Azuolas Tubelis.

Or it can hit outside shots with Bennedict Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa, and Justin Kier.

But the Achille’s Heal of the Wildcats is their propensity to commit turnovers. If the Bruins win the turnover battle and score more points off of turnovers, UCLA probably walks away with the win.

January 25-26 Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—