The Pac-12 Conference virtually avoided the rush that was the first major Saturday of the college basketball season with conference play included. Rather than hurrying out on college basketball's version of Black Friday, they sat back and stole the show on Sunday.
Three of the games were routs featuring potentially the three weakest teams in the conference at the moment, yet the much-maligned Washington State Cougars were not included in that trio-they won their game. In addition to that, the main event of the evening found itself headed to overtime.
It's time we Pac-12:
Colorado 86 (9-5, 2-0), USC 65 (8-6, 0-2): The mountain trip would prove disastrous for the Trojans, who now return home with their tail between their legs so to speak. They don't get back on the road until Jan. 22, but after back-to-back dismantling at the hands of Utah and Colorado, there isn't much reason for optimism in Southern California.
Without Jordan McLaughlin, there wasn't much of a chance of this being a contest. The Buffs ran away and hid early, leading by 16 at the half and never allowing the Trojans back in it.
Katin Reinhardt had another down shooting night, going 4-for-13 from the field, and just 1-for-5 from long range for USC. On the other side of the court, Colorado guard Askia Booker led all scorers with 18 points, and all assisters with seven dimes. As a team, the Buffaloes would finish with 22 assists to just 10 turnovers.
The Colorado frontcourt would dominate the game as well. Both Xavier Johnson and Dustin Thomas had 17 points, while Wesley Gordon had six points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists.
#10 Utah 71 (12-2, 2-0), UCLA 39 (8-7, 0-2): This has gone from bad to worse so precipitously that I'm not sure the Bruins will even have any clue on how to dig themselves out of this hole they've created. There's a difference between being competitive and having tough losses early on in the season, and getting completely dismantled. The Bruins have gone the route of the latter.
Sweet-shooting guard Bryce Alford would play the most minutes of any player on the floor for either side Sunday; the problem there lies in the fact that he went 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-4 from three-point range. You would think the coach (Steve Alford, who happens to be his father) would turn to someone else, until you realize there literally is no one else. This is all the Bruins have. They'll have to live by sink or swim.
The Utah Utes are not the type of team that will allow you to swim. Now that Jordan Loveridge has returned to create one of the most destructive frontcourts in the country with sensational freshman Jakob Poeltl, the Utes look like a well-oiled machine poised to smoke inferior competition.
Eleven different players would score for Utah on Sunday, while Delon Wright was up to his usual tricks. He'd score 11 points, grab seven boards, assist on five buckets, and accumulate four steals, as he set up what might be the most complete supporting cast in the Pac-12.
Washington State 69 (7-7, 1-1), California 66 (11-4, 1-1): Part of the job here sort of entails me to some code of impartiality, but for just this once...WAZZUUUUUUU!!!!! Watching this, I couldn't believe my eyes as the Cougs just refused to give in to the Golden Bears. Earlier this week, Cal took down a ranked Washington team-Wazzu looked as if they belonged in an inferior conference all non-conference season long. The fact that they led the game the entire second half is astounding.
How did they do it? A whole lot of Josh Hawkinson. The sophomore would lead the way with 18 points and 13 rebounds, as he beasted on the glass against a Cal team that could not seem to handle his physicality. Jordan Railey, Ike Iroegbu, and DaVonte Lacy would all score in double figures as well to aid the Cougars cause.
It's quite obvious that no matter his contributions, the Golden Bears are missing Jabari Bird. The depth of the club is not quite the same in his absence, which is illuminated by Sam Singer having to start when he is much better suited in the bench role. Jordan Mathews (24 points and seven rebounds) and Tyrone Wallace (16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists) both got theirs, but they simply ran out of time at the end of the game to catch Wazzu.
#8 Arizona 73 (13-1, 1-0), Arizona State 49 (8-6, 0-1): To put things bluntly: U of A is quite good, and Arizona State is quite brutal. From the tip, this never really felt as if it could stay close, even with Stanley Johnson and Gabe York relegated to bench roles in place of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts, respectively.
No Sun Devil would score in double figures-especially not Savon Goodman, who would accrue just two points on 0-for-3 shooting from the field, following three consecutive games of scoring in double figures. They would turn the ball over a ridiculous 22 times, while assisting on just seven made buckets. ASU's leading assist man was starting center Eric Jacobsen, with two. The point guard position is a train wreck for the Sun Devils at the moment.
The same cannot be said for the Wildcats. T.J. McConnell had his usual inconspicuous game where his stats didn't jump off the page (seven points and three assists), but he would set up his teammates beautifully. The trio of Hollis-Jefferson, Johnson, and Brandon Ashley, would all score 13 points and help carry U of A in their blowout win over their most despised rival.
The Territorial Cup was going nowhere. (Figuratively, of course.)
Stanford 68 (10-3, 2-0), #21 Washington 60 (11-3, 0-2) (OT): The curse of Stony Brook must actually be real, y'all. Ahead by two with just seven seconds remaining, Nigel Williams-Goss-whose body has nothing but ice in his veins-missed the front end of a one-and-one, which set up Chasson Randle going coast-to-coast and sending the contest to overtime.
The Huskies would turn the ball over ten more times than the Cardinal (19, to Stanford's nine), and Williams-Goss would have one of his weaker games of the season (eight points, five assists, three rebounds, but five turnovers as well). Luckily the big men kept them in it during regulation, as Shawn Kemp Jr. led the way in the scoring department with 19 points and five rebounds. Robert Upshaw would pitch in a double-double off the bench, scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 boards, and also blocking four shots.
Despite his 1-for-7 shooting from long range for the Cardinal, it was the Chasson Randle show. Stefan Nastic would have a double-double on a night where he shot 4-for-15 from the field, leaving the obvious candidate for player of the game to the crafty guard who poured in 24 points, including the game-tying bucket as the clock ticked down in regulation.
The loss was the third in a row for UW, who will also not have to go back on the road until Jan. 22.
After what appeared to be some early season concern in non-conference play, the Cardinal are back on track themselves.