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Originally published January 1, 2014 at 6:32 PM | Page modified January 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM

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Pac-12 men’s basketball preview

Bud Withers’ Pac-12 team-by-team preview, in predicted order of finish.

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Nice article Bud... I guess you have to work with LoRo, so you soft peddled the preview... MORE


1. Arizona (14-0)

Coach: Sean Miller (5th year), 110-43.

Top scorer: Nick Johnson (16.0).

Resume: Pac-12’s best, with wins at San Diego State, over No. 7 Duke and at Michigan.

Telling stat: UA’s FG percentage defense of .372 is No. 12 nationally and No. 6 adjusted for tempo.

Revelation: Prize freshman F Aaron Gordon averages 12.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg.

Shortfall: Gordon makes only 45.2 percent of his free throws.

Bottom line: With Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell giving ’Cats a true point guard, it’s all out there for Arizona this season — even a second NCAA title.

2. Oregon (12-0)

Coach: Dana Altman (4th year), 85-37.

Top scorer: G Joseph Young (20.2).

Resume: Ducks have wins over Georgetown, Ole Miss, Illinois and BYU.

Telling stat: G Jason Calliste, shooting .593 on threes and .926 on free throws, has scored 148 points on 62 field-goal tries.

Revelation: The top four scorers — Young, Mike Moser, Calliste and Damyean Dotson — combine to shoot .446 on threes.

Shortfall: G Dominic Artis and F Ben Carter recently returned from nine-game NCAA suspension for selling school-provided shoes.

Bottom line: Jet-fueled Ducks (Pac-12-leading 90.8 ppg) may not have the size to contest Arizona, but they’re trouble for everybody else.

3. Colorado (11-2)

Coach: Tad Boyle (4th year), 80-40.

Top scorer: G Spencer Dinwiddie (15.8).

Resume: Buffs’ portfolio is good, with a victory over No. 16 Kansas and quality losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Telling stat: Against a solid schedule, CU has a 10.4 rebounding margin.

Revelation: Buffs succeeding with a young roster, with five freshmen and two sophomores among top 10.

Shortfall: Team shooting only .322 on threes.

Bottom line: Buffs don’t look to have championship weapons, but a veteran backcourt will carry them a long way.

4. UCLA (11-2)

Coach: Steve Alford (1st year), 11-2.

Top scorer: G Jordan Adams (18.5).

Resume: Nothing overwhelming, with wins over Northwestern and Alabama and losses to Missouri and Duke.

Telling stat: Bruins shooting .522, with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.72 to 1.

Revelation: Bothell product Zach LaVine is third-leading scorer (12.2), shooting 44 percent from three.

Shortfall: In the two losses, Bruins were outrebounded by a total of 25.

Bottom line: Alford has a skilled team of good shooters. If 6-9 soph Tony Parker continues developing, UCLA will be a handful.

5. California (9-4)

Coach: Mike Montgomery (6th year), 118-63.

Top scorer: G Justin Cobbs (14.2).

Resume: Losses are to Syracuse, Dayton, UCSB and Dayton, with a victory over Arkansas.

Telling stat: Bears have had the Pac-12 player of the year three of the past four seasons.

Revelation: F Richard Solomon, averaging 10.3 boards, has vastly improved his rebounding.

Shortfall: Swingman Ricky Kreklow is out indefinitely with a broken hand.

Bottom line: Montgomery hasn’t had a full roster in recent years, but he figures to have enough to steer the Bears to another NCAA tournament.

6. Arizona State (11-2)

Coach: Herb Sendek (8th year), 130-110.

Top scorer: G Jahii Carson (19.3).

Resume: Solid but unspectacular, with a win over Marquette and losses to Creighton (88-60) and Miami (Fla.)

Telling stat: Starting Gs Carson and Jermaine Marshall combine to shoot .478 on threes.

Revelation: Shaquielle McKissic, a 23-year-old, 6-5 Kentridge High and Edmonds Community College product, has averaged 14 points over the past four games.

Shortfall: Depth could be an issue; only seven Sun Devils average more than 10 minutes.

Bottom line: Behind the explosive Carson, ASU should make a run at an NCAA berth.

7. Stanford (9-3)

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (6th year), 103-77.

Top scorer: G Chasson Randle (18.7).

Resume: Got a marquee win at UConn, lost close to Michigan and had bad losses to BYU and Pitt.

Telling stat: Cardinal holding foes to .396 shooting.

Revelation: 6-11 junior F Stefan Nastic averages 8.8 ppg after being a non-factor last year.

Shortfall: G Aaron Bright of Bellevue suffered a season-ending shoulder dislocation seven games in.

Bottom line: Dawkins desperately needs an NCAA appearance, and Cardinal, led by Randle and F Dwight Powell, might get him there.

8. Utah (11-1)

Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (3rd year), 32-44.

Top scorer: F Jordan Loveridge (17.3).

Resume: Dominant win over BYU and a tight loss at Boise State the only redeeming qualities on a downy-soft schedule.

Telling stat: Utes have played 11 of 12 games at home.

Revelation: JC transfer G Delon Wright (6-5) looks like one of the Pac-12’s brightest additions.

Shortfall: Skimpy resume, and 1-17 Pac-12 road record the last two years, make Utes a tough read.

Bottom line: Krystkowiak seems to have the Utes on an upward arc. They’ll be pesky, especially in Salt Lake City.

9. USC (9-4)

Coach: Andy Enfield (1st year), 9-4.

Top scorer: G Byron Wesley (17.0).

Resume: Trojans have quality wins over Dayton and Xavier.

Telling stat: Trojans shoot only .313 on threes, but allow just .300.

Revelation: F Nikola Jovanovic (10.0 ppg) and G Julian Jacobs (7.1) have become freshman starters.

Shortfall: Trojans playing fast, but their offensive efficiency ranks 12th in the league.

Bottom line: Enfield hasn’t yet turned USC into Dunk City West, but the ride will be worth watching.

10. Washington (8-5)

Coach: Lorenzo Romar (12th year), 245-134.

Top scorer: G C.J. Wilcox (20.5).

Resume: Huskies have taken lumps against a tougher schedule and don’t have a marquee win.

Telling stat: UW allows a league-worst .496 FG shooting.

Revelation: JC transfer Mike Anderson has been an all-around contributor, averaging 7 rebounds with a 1.87-1 assist-turnover ratio.

Shortfall: F Shawn Kemp Jr., coping with a thyroid condition, averages only 16 minutes and two rebounds.

Bottom line: Could be Romar’s most challenging year since 10-17 debut in 2003.

11. Washington State (7-5)

Coach: Ken Bone (5th year), 77-70.

Top scorer: G DaVonte Lacy (18.9).

Resume: Cougars beat Purdue but have home losses to TCU and UTEP.

Telling stat: F D.J. Shelton and G Royce Woolridge combine for just 11 of 63 threes (17.4 percent).

Revelation: After a slow start, guard Que Johnson has 40 points in his past two games.

Shortfall: Despite renewed defensive emphasis, WSU allowing .431 shooting, 11th in Pac-12.

Bottom line: Still playing a low-possession game, WSU faces an uphill struggle in an improved league.

12. Oregon State (8-4)

Coach: Craig Robinson (6th year), 86-93.

Top scorer: Roberto Nelson (21.4).

Resume: Win at Maryland is negated by losses to Coppin State, DePaul, Akron and Hawaii.

Telling stat: Beavers have a slight rebounding deficit.

Revelation: G Langston Morris-Walker’s energy just won him a starting spot.

Shortfall: F Eric Moreland will return shortly after a 14-game suspension for violating team rules.

Bottom line: Long-suffering Beavers haven’t finished as high as .500 in league since 1993. That won’t change this season.

Bud Withers

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