A relatively light schedule around the Pac-12 on Thursday night churned out three competitive games. Highlighted by a double-overtime thriller from Los Angeles, Pac-12 Conference play is just beginning to heat up.
Oregon State 55 (10-4, 1-1), Arizona State 47 (8-7, 0-2): At the moment, there is really no doubting the fact that the Sun Devils are the weakest team in this conference. Which is astounding considering just how downright awful Wazzu looked at points in their non-conference schedule, but ASU has just been unable to find consistency of any kind.
The Sun Devils stayed in the conversation the entire game, but with Savon Goodman only scoring two points in his 18 minutes of play, the wonder wheel of minutes and confusion for the boys from Tempe continued. Eric Jacobsen and Shaquielle McKissic were the only scorers in double figures with 11 points apiece.
The Beavers are usually carried as far as Gary Payton II will take them, but on this night, it was Malcolm Duvivier's night to shine. Although he would go just 2-for-8 from the field, he'd knock down 10 of his 11 free throws, finishing the game with 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
While OSU's style isn't to shoot the three, they'd go 3-for-8 from deep, which was infinitely more efficient than the bomb squad Sun Devils, who went 4-for-21. The 47 points is the lowest total for ASU this season.
UCLA 86 (9-7, 1-2), Stanford 81 (10-4, 2-1) (2 OT): Who knew UCLA could be fun!? There's something oddly interesting about the fact that coach Alford actually believed playing just five players would work. They certainly all got their numbers on Wednesday, but with Normal Powell's injury hanging up in the air, the Bruins will need to buckle down over the next few games.
While Chasson Randle was the game's leading scorer with 31 points, his missed free throw with two seconds remaining in the first overtime left the game deadlocked and provided us with even more free Bill Walton commentary. This game had a little bit of everything: Walton/Pasch on the mics, 50 combined three-pointers taken, Kevon Looney rebounding everything, 22 combined missed free throws-it was a classic, but a messy one at that.
The aforementioned Looney had a field day on the glass. Snagging 10 offensive rebounds, he'd finish with 27 points and 19 total rebounds. He'd also go 11-for-17 from the free throw line as he played 47 of the 50 possible minutes the contest went. That's not to leave out big man Tony Parker either, who poured in 22 points and 12 rebounds of his own.
Stanford got major contributions from their three horsemen of Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic, but will need Rosco Allen to keep stepping up like he did on Thursday in order to win consistently. Off the bench, Allen would play 40 minutes, scoring 14 points, grabbing seven boards, getting three assists and three steals.
#7 Arizona 80 (14-1, 2-0), Oregon 62 (11-4, 1-1): The House that Phil Built can be a tough place for opponents to come into and win, especially in the Pac-12. Unfortunately for the Ducks, T.J. McConnell had one of those nights where he decided that he was going to win the game scoring the rock, rather than dishing it.
It's not often you see McConnell lead the team in shots taken, but scoring 21 points on 14 shots, he was the leading scorer for either club. All five U of A starters would score in double figures, with Kaleb Tarczewski producing a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
As miserable as the ‘Cats would shoot from long distance (2-for-11), the Ducks wouldn't be much better (4-for-20). Joseph Young being outscored by McConnell didn't seem like a likely proposition at the onset of the contest, but after picking up a technical foul, it was obvious Young was rattled. He'd lead Oregon in scoring with 12 points, but he'd shoot just 4-for-15 from the field.
The Wildcats defense totally stymied everything the Ducks attempted to accomplish, although all nine players that Oregon played would score. They'd assist on just seven baskets, while turning the ball over 13 times.
The Ducks now look forward to a five-game stretch that includes ASU, Wazzu, UW, USC, and UCLA-which looks as if it could become a quick five-game winning streak should Oregon get it's act together. In order for the Ducks to make a serious run towards the tournament, they'll need to get their wins, and get them early.