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Early Season Tournaments Hurting Pac-12

The Pac-12 Conference would have their first losing night of the season as three separate schools would fall in their early season tournament. Only the powerhouse Arizona Wildcats would roll to victory.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time on the season, the Pac-12 had a losing night.  While the competition was incredibly strong due to the early season tournaments the teams were playing in, the conference would pick up only one win in the four games played on Monday night.

They had all four corners of our nation pretty much covered.  The Oregon Ducks played in Brooklyn, New York, the Arizona Wildcats in Maui, Hawaii, the Oregon State Beavers in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Arizona State Sun Devils in Kansas City, Missouri.

#3 Arizona 72, Missouri 53: There is no doubt that the Wildcats have a lethal offense capable of leading them to the Final Four, but where their real strength lies is on defense.  After leading by only seven at the half, they completely stifled the Tigers in the second half.  With Kaleb Tarczewski protecting the rim at the back, it allows wings Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson to gamble, and sometimes allows for this to happen:

Stanley Johnson with the scoop and slam

With T.J. McConnell distributing (six points, nine assists) and Hollis-Jefferson pouring in 15 points off the bench, Arizona would pull away halfway through the second half.  Having won in the quarterfinals of the Maui Invitational, the team now matches up with the Kansas State...Wildcats on Tuesday evening.

Maryland 78, Arizona State 73: This wins my vote for game of the night around the Pac-12, mostly because of the fact that Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes came off the Sun Devils bench and had no conscience.  If there was an ounce of separation, these guys were letting it fly.  Gilling would bang home seven threes, good for his only 21 points of the night.  Barnes would have a career-high of 17 points while pouring in five threes of his own.

Despite ASU's bench once again outscoring their starters, the star of the show was Melo Trimble of Maryland.  The freshman point guard wasn't as interested in distributing as he was scoring the rock; as evident by his 31-point, one assist night, which featured him going 13-for-14 from the free throw line, including icing the game down the stretch.

The Sun Devils would trail by two with less than 30 seconds left, but rather than get the ball into the hands of the red-hot Gilling or Barnes, freshman guard Kodi Justice took a pull-up jump shot from the foul line that went long.  Justice would go 0-for-4 from the field and finish with a goose egg in the point's column.

Oklahoma State 66, Oregon State 53: These Cowboys may not be featuring Marcus Smart (of the Boston Celtics) any longer, but there is no doubt that LeBryan Nash and Phil Forte III are perennial All-America players.  The Beavers caught a break with Forte going just 2-for-9 from long range, as Forte can usually make threes as well as he does layups.

The Beavers would struggle from the field, as they would make only 14 shots all evening long, finishing at 33 percent.  Were it not for junior forward Victor Robbins' 16-point contribution off the bench, Oregon State may have been run off the floor.

They'll get a day off before taking on Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday night.

#19 Michigan 70, Oregon 63: Even though the Wolverines are missing Nik Stauskas and Mitch McGary from what was a loaded roster last season, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin seem more than ready to step into that role-just ask Dana Altman.  The Ducks did not have an answer for the rangy Wolverine wing players, who would combine for 37 points, 15 of which came from the free throw line.

Oregon would have the game's leading scorer in Joseph Young who dropped in 20 points, but despite being flawless from the line (8-for-8), Young would go just 5-for-16 from the field and 2-for-9 from three.  With not enough offensive contributions off the bench (Casey Benson played 23 minutes and took all of one shot, which he did not make), the team would muster just five points from players not in the starting five.

With under a minute remaining, it was still a one-possession game.  The Wolverines would eventually prove too tough to topple, but it was a stout early season challenge for Oregon, who will get no time to rest, as they'll have to be ready for the frenetic pace of the VCU Rams on Tuesday night.