The University of Arizona Wildcats journeyed to Los Angeles last weekend knowing that one win, especially over the UCLA Bruins, practically would clinch the Pac-10 regular season title.
ASU, riding a precious one-game winning streak, simply wanted to keep the alleged momentum going.
But both teams came back (on the same plane, it seems) on Saturday night with two losses each, including an embarrassing one in the case of the Wildcats' trouncing by the Bruins on Saturday afternoon in the last game at soon-to-be refurbished Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins exposed and exploited all of Arizona's weaknesses--for one, MoMo Jones has come a long way this season and has been Mr. Clutch on one than one occasion, but he does too many things that seasoned point guards rarely do, including spending too much time around the rim where thick-trunked trees like UCLA's Reeves Nelson tend to lurk.
The Wildcats continue to rely too much on Derrick Williams, great as he is, to come to the rescue time and again. As Williams told someone out in LA, he's no Blake Griffin, the budding superstar for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, and he's just not going to put up 30 points and 15 rebounds every time out.
As for the Sun Devils, they had but eight or ten minutes of euphoria, which was the beginning of their own game against UCLA in which they grabbed a ten-point lead before being quickly coming back to earth. ASU has won but two league games, and is ensured of a play-in game at the conference tournament back in Los Angeles a week from this Wednesday.
The Devils continue to play hard, and with a very young lineup, but let's face it: They don't have the horses this go-`round and a win at the upcoming tourney would be a surprise.
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So, Arizona finds itself tied with UCLA going into the final weekend of the regular season. The Cats will host improved Oregon and not-so-hot Oregon State this weekend, while the Bruins make the always-tough road trip to Washington to face the UW and Washington State.
The Huskies lost to their in-state rival at home last night in a pretty big upset that killed their hopes of sneaking into first place.
We'll be watching.