The time has come. You waited patiently through Christmas, New Years Eve, and even the glorious New Years Day bowl games for this moment-the opening of Pac-12 Conference play on the hardwood.
Eight teams would participate in four games to open the slate on Jan. 2, 2015, a season that will culminate in just two and a half months time. In typical Pac-12 fashion, it didn't take very long for an upset to occur. What else went on in the nutty first night of Pac-12 hoops? Come on the journey with me:
Stanford 71 (9-3, 1-0), Washington State 56 (6-7, 0-1): The line coming into the game had Wazzu as 15 and a half point underdogs, which makes the ending of the game all the more interesting-if you're into that kind of thing.
The loss of Reid Travis is going to be a crucial blow to the Cardinal, but they responded well, despite only leading the Cougars by three at the half. The three-headed monster of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic is going to have to carry Stanford over the next few months, and they got off on the right track Friday afternoon. Randle would be the leading scorer with 18 points, and Brown would put together the best complete game, scoring 13 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and assisting on five buckets.
While Stanford may be one of the better defensive clubs in the conference, it's not hard to see that the Cougars are going to have some trouble scoring the ball in Pac-12 play this year. Star forward Josh Hawkinson wouldn't make a field goal (0-for-6), but would knock down 11 of his 15 free throws attempted. He'd finish the game with 11 points and 15 rebounds, the only Cougar in double figures in either category.
California 81 (11-3, 1-0), #21 Washington 75 (11-2, 0-1): The curse of Stony Brook is upon the Huskies! After winning their first 11 contests, UW has now dropped two in a row, this one to the Golden Bears, who scored an astounding 54 points in the second half alone.
On the back of Jordan Mathews' 31-point night (21 of which came in the second half), Cal played a nearly flawless game, turning the ball over just four times all night in their comeback win. The backcourt combination of Mathews and Tyrone Wallace shot more free throws (24) than the entire UW team combined (21).
All isn't lost for the Huskies, who surely won't be allowing many more 50-point halves on the season. Superstar Nigel Williams-Goss once again flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. Off the bench, big man Robert Upshaw would play 31 minutes and contribute 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and five blocks.
This was such a tightly contested matchup that if it happened ten times, it's hard to see each team not winning five times apiece. For now though, Cal gets the early nod, and UW is heading to the unranked line.
Colorado 62 (8-5, 1-0), UCLA 56 (8-6, 0-1): The titanic collapse of UCLA basketball continues precipitously. The starting five can only take this team so far, and on nights when sharpshooter Bryce Alford goes 2-for-16 from the field and 0-for-9 from three-point range, the other four have to significantly pick up the slack with zero help from the bench.
It wasn't only Alford who would come up lacking; it was center Tony Parker as well. He'd shoot just 1-for-8 and score only two points on the evening.
Despite the Buffs turning the ball over far too much at 18 times, Colorado held on late, despite their best efforts to let the Bruins hang around. The player of the game was unquestionably Wesley Gordon, who was seemingly everywhere, scoring 11 points, snatching 14 rebounds, and swatting seven shots.
UCLA would take 22 more shots than Colorado; yet still found a way to fall late in the contest. (The Buffs would take 15 more free throws, but the discrepancy is still surprising.)
#10 Utah 79 (11-2, 1-0), USC 55 (8-5, 0-1): If the Utes weren't a serious title contender before, with the addition of Jordan Loveridge, they definitely are now.
In just his second game back, Loveridge would lead the team in scoring with 14 points on a night where Delon Wright settled for distributing the rock. Wright himself would still finish with a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists. With Loveridge back, the Utes displayed tremendous depth, playing eight players all within 18 to 27 minutes.
It was a rough night for the Trojans to say the least. Their stud backcourt of Jordan McLaughlin and Katin Reinhardt never quite got going, finishing 5-for-17 from the field, and scoring just 11 combined points. Leading the way in scoring would be both Nikola Jovanovic and Malik Martin with 14 points each. It was a bit of a coming out party for Martin, who had scored all of 22 points on the year entering the contest.