The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series is set up differently than than the recently completed ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with games being spread out over a couple of weeks. The Pac-10 has taken more than its fair share of shots to this point in the season and tonight's 0-for-3 outcome certainly didn't help their cause. #10 Washington losing at Texas Tech in overtime was a tough blow to the league but that was a game in which the Red Raiders (more on them later) were right in the thick of things throughout and nearly won it in regulation on a Mike Singletary three.
But the most infuriating result for the conference has to be Arizona State's 64-61 home loss to Baylor. The Sun Devils, who led by nine at the half and held the Bears to twenty-four first half points, didn't have an answer for the adjustments that resulted in twenty-seven points from Tweety Carter and a 13-0 run that gave Baylor a 52-47 lead with just over five minutes remaining. The reversal of fortune was evident in the Sun Devils' third to last possession, which was foiled by Baylor's decision to switch from their 2-3 zone to man.
After using three or four ball screens at the top the key Derek Glasser had to toss up an off-balance three that didn't go. Jamel McMillan was able to knock down a three following a Baylor free throw to cut the lead to one but a LaceDarius Dunn lauyp provided the final margin with Glasser missed a three at the horn (Dunn would have been better served to dribble time off of the clock as opposed to taking the shot but it worked out in the end). The Big 12 now enjoys a 4-0 edge and it could get worse for the Pac-10 before the weekend's done.
Three Key Happenings
1. Texas Tech picks up a big win. The Red Raiders went into their game with Washington undefeated (7-0), but with their best win coming at perennial Southland contender Stephen F. Austin the resume was in need of a boost. That came at the expense of the Huskies in Lubbock, with five players scoring in double figures led by John Roberson's 25 points in a 99-92 overtime win. Mike Singletary, who scored 16 points and 12 rebounds, was thought to have hit a three as time expired for the win but the officials waved it off. All that ruling did was delay the inevitable for the Huskies, who witnessed a second storming of the floor at the end of overtime.
Texas Tech scored fifty points in the first half and for the game shot 47.8% from the field and had twice as many assists (18) as the Huskies. But the true difference may have come from the bench, with Tech outscoring Washington 30-9 on the night. Brad Reese scored seventeen off the bench for the Red Raiders, who have their first big win of the season.
2. Big changes taking place at Fordham. The dominoes began to fall for the 1-4 Rams on Wednesday night when sophomore guard Jio Fontan, the team's best player, announced that he would be transferring at the end of the semester. Losing your best player, especially when you finished last season with three wins, is usually a harbinger of things to come despite the presence of freshman F Chris Gaston. Thursday brought about the firing of head coach Dereck Whittenburg, who will be replaced by assistant coach Jared Grasso on an interim basis.
The Rams have been plagued by defections in recent seasons, with the losing doing some serious harm to the mindset of the players and fan base. Who they find that can turn that around (it's essentially been a problem ever since they joined the Atlantic 10) will be vital to the future of the program.
3. Texas won't have to light up the scoreboard to be a national title contender. Not much national value can be put into the Longhorns' 69-50 win over USC due to the depleted nature of the Trojans' roster, but it can offer some insight into the way in which Rick Barnes' team can win games. Texas held USC to just 30.4% shooting from the field with two assists to seventeen turnovers. Those numbers tell the story of a defense that can be downright disruptive if clicking on all cylinders. The Longhorns didn't shoot particularly well themselves and the foul shooting (19-34) must improve in games of larger magnitude but they're a definite national title contender.
Top Three Games
1. Eastern Illinois 83, Tennessee St. 81 (3OT) The Panthers picked up the win in the Ohio Valley opener for both thanks to some big shots from Tyler Laser and 25 points from Edin Suljic.
2. Texas Tech 99, #10 Washington 92 (OT) See above.
3. High Point 63, Presbyterian 61 Tehran Cox's layup as time expired gave High Point the victory in the Big South opener for both. The points were the only two that Cox would score, with Nick Barbour's 25 leading the Panthers to the win.
Three Notable Performances
1. C Artsiom Parakhouski (Radford) The reigning Big South Player of the Year opened league play with 21 points and 14 rebounds in Radford's 61-59 win over Winthrop.
2. F Quincy Pondexter (Washington) Pondexter scored 31 points and grabbed five rebounds in the Huskies' 99-92 loss at Texas Tech.
3. C Adnad Hodzic (Lipscomb) Hodzic scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds on 10-11 shooting from the field in the Bisons' 98-89 win over Mercer.