Tuesday night featured another full slate of Pac-12 hoops action, highlighted by games played in Brooklyn as well as Hawaii. As snow and Ferguson riots threatened the World's Most Famous City, beautiful sunshine and picturesque ocean views "threatened" the nation's most remote state.
Alabama 76, Arizona State 71: Stuck in the heartland of America, the Sun Devils got their shot at the Crimson Tide...on the hardwood. Although, with the way Anthony Grant coaches up his kids, they may as well be on the gridiron.
Senior guard Levi Randolph would more than likely succeed on nearly any playing field. Good for 28 points in the comeback win over the Devils, he was literally unguardable down the stretch. Arizona State has shown weakness early on in the season shutting down a dominant wing force and Tuesday was no different.
Out of nowhere, the Devils had a wing scorer of their own. Junior Gerry Blakes did not arrive on campus in Tempe as a scorer; yet on Tuesday night, he took the role of do-it-all performer, pouring in 21 points with both hands, while also snatching nine rebounds.
While both Bo Barnes and Jonathan Gilling were back in double digits in scoring after their huge nights against Maryland, the club lacked any punch from sixth-year senior Shaquielle McKissic. He would attempt only four shots and finish the game with just three points, leaving the team with absolutely no consistency to build from, making their last place finish in the early season tournament an indication of things to come.
#3 Arizona 72, Kansas State 68: In a battle of Wildcats, it was the juggernaut of the Pac-12 that survived. Just a night after a dismantling of an extremely average Missouri squad, the ‘Cats from Tucson scuffled offensively before eventually proving themselves a possession or two better than the crew from Manhattan.
The scoring was a balanced assault from U of A with four scorers in double-figures. Kaleb Tarczewski paced the way with 18 points, while also containing the Kansas State assault on the backend. Only Marcus Foster would be a consistent for the ‘Cats wearing all-black, as he dropped a game-high 23 points on one of the country's premier defenses.
Arizona now looks ahead to Wednesday night against #15 San Diego State in the EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship.
#14 VCU 77, Oregon 63: How this game managed not to total over 200 points I'm still not sure, but I know I'm still drenched in sweat from watching it. Both teams play a havoc-inducing style, so it should serve as no surprise that there was a surplus of turnovers. While 20 each were excessive, they were the most enjoyable 40 turnovers I can ever remember watching.
Each offensive attack was incredibly balanced; every starter on either side was in double-figures of scoring, sans Joseph Young who managed only nine points on 2-for-13 shooting. Young was bottled up by a defense that feasts on guards who have a tendency to fire at will.
Even with their last-place finish in the Legends Classic, there is definite reason for optimism for the Ducks as they head back west. They picked up close losses to two teams (Michigan and VCU) who are legitimate final four contenders this season. This won't be the last time we'll see Oregon wreaking havoc.
Colorado 68, Air Force 53: After their most recent outing where the offense went colder than a Boulder winter in the second half, the Buffs locked up the cadets for just 15 first half points.
Junior forward Xavier Johnson paced the way with 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Buffs. Nights after their offense failed them, they held the Falcons to just 33 percent from the field, including only four made three-pointers as they cruised to victory at home.
Stanford 84, Delaware 47: It wasn't a pretty trip west for the Blue Hens, at least not on the basketball court. Palo Alto in November is infinitely better than even the best East Coast city, but after having Chasson Randle and the Cardinal bludgeon them, they head back home with some money for their program and a blowout loss.
Ten different Cardinal would get in the scoring column, led by the aforementioned Randle who had 15. Yet, it was the Stanford defense that proved stingy on Tuesday as they held Delaware to just 29 percent shooting from the field. The Hens made just 18 buckets-six of which came from beyond the arc.
Without overreacting to a drubbing of a club that won't even sniff the NCAA Tournament, Stanford looked like as complete a team as any in that second tier in the Pac-12. Look for Johnny Dawkins' club to make some serious power moves once conference play finally gets going.
USC 53, Cal-State Fullerton 49: It's not so much that I root against the Trojans, but it's gotten almost comical to see how close they can get to rock bottom without actually touching it. It's like that episode of SpongeBob SquarePants (and if you didn't watch SpongeBob, I highly suggest you reconsider your life's priorities) when he is at "Rock Bottom" and cannot catch the bus back up to Bikini Bottom. You want SpongeBob to eventually get there, but it's just so hilarious to see him continuously find a way to miss every bus that comes through the station. And that is how I just compared USC basketball to SpongeBob SquarePants.
Watching Katin Reinhardt and Jordan McLaughlin play together is actually 95 percent of the reason I even watch USC, but they were way off on Tuesday. The two combined for just 13 points, while going 5-for-19 from the field. Thankfully, their sophomore frontcourt of Nikola Jovanovic and Darion Clark had their backs, as Jovanovic was good for 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Clark pitched in an efficient 10 points and 14 boards.
A big reason the Trojans were able to pull off the win? Everyone in the Titans starting lineup not named Lanerryl Johnson went a combined for 6-for-31 from the field. With the win, the Trojans pull back to the .500 mark, but the fun is only just beginning.