No. 16 Oregon comes back to beat Wazzu, remains Pac-12 favorite

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That’s the last time that Oregon started out the season 6-0 in conference play. They weren’t playing in the Pac-12 or the Pac-12 then. It was the Pacific Coast Conference. Mac Court wasn’t even built.

But on Tuesday night, the No. 16 Ducks moved to 6-0 in the Pac-12, 17-2 overall, with a 68-61 come-from-behind win over Washington State. Oregon shook off a sluggish start, using a 19-7 run — the last 10 of which were scored by EJ Singler — to erase a 39-29 halftime deficit, eventually taking control down the stretch. Singler scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half.

It’s time to start believing. The Ducks are for real. They have a talented, albeit youthful, back court led by Damyeon Dotson and Dominic Artis that compliments their versatile front line nicely. Tony Woods takes up space in the paint, Arsalan Kazemi is the glue guy that does the dirty work, and Singler and Carlos Emory are the talented swingmen that allow the Ducks to go big (by putting them at the two and the three) or small (using them at the three and the four).

It works.

Oregon is as balanced as any team in the country, with five guys averaging between 10.1 points and 11.9 points and a sixth player — Kazemi — who leads the team in rebounding, averaging 9.5 boards, while chipping in with 8.8 points-per-game.

But that’s not why Oregon has become the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 three weeks into league play.

It’s because they’ve beaten both UCLA and Arizona already this season, and they won’t have to face either UCLA or Arizona again.

As of today, the Ducks hold a one game lead in the loss column on both teams. After tonight, that lead will be push to two games over whoever loses when they square off tonight. UCLA and Arizona will square off again on March 2nd, and assuming that home-court advantage holds, the Ducks more-or-less have a two-game advantage in the Pac-12 and don’t have to play their two biggest challengers in the conference again this season.

That’s a good place to be.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

PHOTO: Baylor shows off new uniforms

Scott Drew
Associated Press
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Wednesday afternoon the Baylor basketball program sent out some images of its uniform combinations for the upcoming season, and the volt color way that first made a splash in 2012 is back. Baylor’s got four different uniforms it can wear this season: home (white), away (green) and two alternate uniforms.

While there is some volt green in each of the four uniforms, its presence is relatively tame compared to the uniforms Scott Drew’s program wore back in 2012. Of course those uniforms were part of adidas’ AdiZero uniform¬†release (Baylor is now outfitted by Nike), with two other schools (Cincinnati and Louisville) wearing colorful uniforms with shorts that had “interesting” patterns on them.

While some of the new uniform designs in college sports have received some pushback from fans and alums, this stuff is about the players and recruits programs look to land for the future. Everyone likes free stuff, and when it comes to apparel for young athletes having something that’s both free and “exclusive” is seen as a positive.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”