Things Get Wacky Way Out West
Highlights are non-stop in the Pac-10 Tournament from Staples Center.
What a day for basketball. It couldn’t have been much better.
Play in the Pac-10 Tournament got underway right around noon Thursday, West Coast time of course. And things didn’t wrap up until well after 10 p.m. In between, fans in attendance at Staples Center in Los Angeles were treated to a little bit of this and and little bit of that.
One of the tournament’s sleeper picks took care of business to kick things off. One of the tournament’s favorites followed with a rather impressive victory. Shortly thereafter, the plot thickened with a major upset. Last but certainly not least, one of the tournament’s premier players went off and actually ended up setting the tournament’s single-game scoring record in a loss.
Let’s get down to business and see how things played out.
USC 70, CAL 56
*** USC quickly answers. Alex Stepheson gets busy underneath the basket, hitting the boards with reckless abandon. He scores back-to-back baskets and the Trojans manage to tie things up, 20-20, with 3:38 left in the first half of play.
*** The Trojans don’t let up, not at all. Marcus Simmons scores on a layup and buries a three-pointer just before the break to give USC a 35-27 advantage at intermission.
*** Stepheson is at it again. A dunk, tip-in and layup extends the lead to 15 points at the 14:39 mark of the second half. Cal better do something. And quick, or this is over.
*** Another dunk from Stepheson and free-throw gives USC a 62-49 advantage with 5:25 left. He finishes up with 14 points and 16 rebounds in the lopsided victory.
*** Crabbe ends up with 21 points. In retrospect, it’s a nice effort from the youngster. It appears as if the Golden Bears might have a keeper in the shooting guard.
*** Nice win for the Trojans. Their postseason hopes are alive and well.
*** Nikola Vucevic didn’t have his best game ever at USC. He scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field. He did do other things well though, especially on the defensive end of the floor, where he finished with three blocks. Suppose you can chalk it up as an off night.
ARIZONA 78, OREGON STATE 69
*** Right on queue, Williams gets to work. He scores seven of the Wildcats’ 10 points during one stretch to give Arizona a 27-22 lead with 7:04 remaining in the first half.
*** Williams steps out on the perimeter and knocks down a three-pointer. There’s plenty of NBA scouts in attendance, they have to like seeing that facet of his game. Wow, he knocks down another shot from long distance and the Wildcats are up three points at the break.
*** Little, or nothing, changes after halftime. Williams continues to dominate on the inside and outside. His three-ball extends the lead to 49-39 at 17:41. He hits another one too. Arizona leads 66-51 with 8:41 left. This one is essentially over. Williams ends up with 22 points.
*** Jared Cunningham played well in the first half and he kept Oregon State somewhat close in the second half. One problem, he didn’t have much help. All told, Cunningham finishes with a well-rounded stat line: 23 points, six steals, four rebounds and four assists.
OREGON 76, UCLA 59
*** Before we start, UCLA could use a win here. A victory would go a long ways in strengthening the Bruins chances of receiving an at-large berth to the Big Dance.
*** The Bruins respond. A Jerime Anderson layup gives them a 14-11 lead with 13:08 left in the first half of play. It’s about time someone steps up for UCLA.
*** Two free-throws by Singler give Oregon State a 35-20 lead with 2:56 on the first half clock. Seriously UCLA, you guys are going to just roll over like this?
*** Singler layup. Singler layup. Singler three-pointer. This kid means business. Seven straight points and the Ducks are up, 54-38, with 13:08 left in the game.
*** Singler makes his free-throws down the stretch. He finishes with a 24 points to help Oregon pull off the big-time upset. Huge win for the Ducks, obviously.
WASHINGTON 89, WASHINGTON STATE 87
*** This one will be fun. Both teams like to run. Let’s go!
*** Klay Thompson for three, it’s good. He buries another one from way downtown. Another jumper. The leading scorer in the Pac-10 is getting busy. Can’t believe it, Washington State is winning, 20-9 with 14:05 left in the first half. I smell another upset in the making.
*** Not to be outdone, Thompson steps to the free-throw line and hits a pair. The Cougars are hanging, of course, and they lead by eight points at the break.
*** An Isaiah Thomas three-pointer brings the Huskies all the way back. Things are deadlocked at 40-40 with 18 minutes left in the second half of play.
*** Thompson for three, nothing but the bottom of the net. He buries a jumper minutes later. Another three-pointer. Another jumper. Another three-pointer. Dude is on fire. Thompson is approaching the 30-point plateau. Game is tied, 73-73. with 5:03 left on the clock.
*** Thompson for three, got it. A free-throw cuts the lead to a point with :48 ticks left in the game. The Cougars are going to need a stop on defense now.
*** Thomas converts a layup. The lead is 88-85 with :09 left in the game. Washington appears to be fine, if it can somehow stop Thompson on the next possession.
*** Thompson makes a layup, but two points is no good. Washington State needed three. He finishes with 43 points, but his efforts came up a bit short in the end.
Sean Ceglinsky is a contributor for SLAMonline.com. Follow him on Twitter.