It's not even a week into the season and the Pac-12 Conference already has a defining victory via the California Golden Bears. Unfortunately, they also have already picked up a horrific upset loss via the USC Trojans. Such is the life of West Coast hoops.
Akron 66, USC 46: This is meant with no disrespect to Akron or their program, but the Trojans actually lost by 20 points on a neutral court to Akron. Akron!?!?
It certainly didn't help that as a team, they shot 28.3 percent from the floor. That included their scoring duo of Jordan McLaughlin and Katin Reinhardt going a combined 4-for-19 from the field. In addition to that, they had only two assists while turning the ball over five times.
Blame it on the early start, or the neutral court, or whatever other excuse is plausible, and the fact remains this: the Trojans almost lost at home to Tennessee Tech the other night. They should not be this bad, but the fact of the matter is, they are.
Arizona State 68, Loyola-Marymount 44: It's still to be determined if the fact that the Sun Devils have a deep rotation is either a blessing or a curse. They have returning players with experience such as Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes coming off the bench, while relying on Eric Jacobsen and Shaquielle McKissic in the starting five.
While the Loyola bench would score exactly half of the team's points, ASU took that to a whole new level, scoring 44 of the team's 68. The aforementioned Gilling and Barnes would reach double-figures in scoring, as would sophomore guard Chance Murray who led the team with 12.
To start the season, the Sun Devils have taken care of their business.
California 73, #23 Syracuse 59: "IT'S UPSET CITY, BABYYY!!! I LOVE IT!!" On the "neutral" floor of Madison Square Garden, the Cal Bears took down the Orange on their home away from home. Most importantly, Dick Vitale was on the call, making the game a true "can't miss."
Once Cal extended their lead in the second half, the game was virtually over. For seemingly the entire contest, the Orange were looking up at Cuonzo Martin's young guns who were running them up and down the floor. 2-3 zone? Jabari Bird went 4-for-5 from three. Shot-blockers at the rim? Jordan Mathews would go 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. Whatever strengths ‘Cuse possessed, Cal had an answer for.
For those that just peek at the box score, they'll be concerned about the Golden Bears ability to score off the bench. Yet, Sam Singer dished out eight dimes in 23 minutes of play and continued to help set up the dynamic backcourt.
On Friday night, they'll get another crack at a national powerhouse in the #10 Texas Longhorns. Heading to New York City and getting a win of any kind would have been impressive, but now the Bears are on the verge of taking the 2K Classic.
UCLA 107, Nicholls State 74: Things got messy before they got pretty. After Nicholls made a bucket to cut the lead to 16-10, the Bruins went on a 17-0 run that effectively buried the Colonels and sent the older folks to bed.
Bryce Alford went nuts. That's really the best way to describe the coaches son and the game he had on Thursday. Finishing with 28 points and 13 assists, he buried 6-of-11 threes he took and nailed all six free throws he took.
Joining him in the 20-point scoring club were teammates Tony Parker, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds, and Norman Powell, who poured in 23 points and five boards. Despite breaking the century-mark as a club, the bench still managed to score only 15 points.