On a night when the University of Arizona honored famed coach Lute Olson during halftime, something became very clear as the ceremonial speeches ended and the basketball began. If the Wildcats want to continue their NCAA streak of 25 consecutive tournament appearances, they would need more than an uplifting video (it got dusty in my apartment) and the memory of a coach that has been through a lot the last two years. The Wildcats need a W.
It wasn't happening, as Jerome Randle absolutely murdered the 'Cats in the second half, helping California (22-8, 11-6) improve to third in the Pac-10 with the 83-77 win and put the Wildcats in another uncomfortable position similar to last season -- leaving their March Madness dreams up to chance.
Arizona's Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill did all they could do to keep their team in the game, combining for 52 fo the Wildcat's 77 points, but Randle was absolutely molten from outside, hitting 8-of-11 threes, all coming when the momentum looked to be shifting.
Now, the Wildcats (18-12, 8-9) have to beat Stanford on Saturday and possibly win their first Pac-10 Tournament game to have a chance at making the NCAA Tournament. That task probably seemed a lot more likely before Arizona went on a four-game losing streak, and Stanford didn't show themselves to be capable of taking down a talented Arizona State team on the road as they did on Thursday, 74-64.
In Tempe on Thursday, the Sun Devils were abysmal, going 0-for-6 to start the game and scoring their first basket with 11:50 left in the first half. This was the third-straight loss for an ASU team that looked to be securing a solid spot in the postseason picture before the trip last week to Washington. Now, the Sun Devils have California on Sunday to try and get some positive momentum going before they head to Los Angeles for the Pac-10s.
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UCLA and USC both rolled over Oregon State and Oregon, respectively, on Thursday. The No. 17 Bruins are doing the opposite dance of the Arizona teams, carding their third-straight win and improving their tournament resume as the days roll by. The win also kept them in the hunt for a split of the Pac-10 crown, needing a win on Saturday against Oregon and a loss by Washington to Washington State.
Pac-10 Roundup: Arizona Teams Struggle, LA Teams Roll originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Fri, 06 Mar 2009 09:48:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.