ATB: Bearcat Hangover in Birmingham

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009

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Upset of the Night. UAB 64, Cincinnati 47. Hangover, anyone? Three days after playing the game of the year in the Crosstown Shootout against Xavier, Cincinnati travels to Alabama, shoots miserably, and falls 12 points short of their previous season low. No disrespect to the Blazers, though; they were responsible for more than their share of the Bearcats’ lackluster showing. UAB was obviously the fresher team, coming off of a 12-day stretch with no games, a time they used to improve themselves on the defensive side of things. UAB coach Mike Davis said afterward, “We knew how important it was for us to come out and really play with a lot of intensity on defense. It was the best performance we’ve had all season on defense.” The combination of fatigue (both mental and physical) and UAB defense forced UC into a 31.7% shooting night, including an atrocious 3-22 (13.6%) from behind the three-point arc. The Blazers weren’t exactly lacking on offense, either. Elijah Millsap was formidable, stepping up with 22 points and 15 boards, and Howard Crawford added 14/5. Dion Dixon, the Bearcats’ only player in double-figures (13/3), minimized the possiblity of a post-Xavier hangover when asked about it after the game, saying, “That didn’t have anything to do with it. We’re a young team, we haven’t played many games on the road.” Really? It’s true, not all of them are major contributors, but eight of UC’s 14 players are juniors or seniors. And five of their nine games this year have been away from their home floor. The most damning evidence that the Bearcats’ minds and bodies weren’t totally into this one, though, is that Cincy came in as the 10th best rebounding team in the nation, averaging 40.2 a game. UAB ranks 179th (32.6 RPG). Tonight UAB owned the boards, 44 to 29. No doubt, Cincinnati will be back, but it was UAB, now 9-1, who served notice to the rest of the nation tonight.

UAB Drove Around Cincy All Night (AP/Butch Dill)

UAB Drove Around Cincy All Night (AP/Butch Dill)

RTC LiveOklahoma State 71, Stanford 70. RTC Live visited Maples Pavilion for the first time this evening, and although the fans weren’t all that excitable throughout the game, we were treated with a near-miraculous finish as Stanford hung around just long enough to have a shot in the air to win this one.  It didn’t happen, as Andrew Zimmermann’s drive to the left and subsequent shot attempt went long and fell harmlessly off the glass into the hands of an OSU player, but for most of this game it appeared that the Cowboys were the far superior team, so the fact that Stanford was even in that position had to be a positive for Johnny Dawkins’ team.  The two stars for the respective teams both had big nights — OSU’s James Anderson dropped 28/6/3 assts, including several very difficult three-point plays the old-fashioned way and a few deep threes the modern way in the second half.  Stanford’s Landry Fields had 22/12/4 assts to keep the pace, and it was his playmaking down the stretch that led to open looks for Stanford to crawl back into the game.  Dawkins has to be kicking himself a little bit, though, as the Cardinal committed 11 fewer fouls than Oklahoma State, shot thirteen more FTs, yet only earned four more points from the stripe — that’s what 12-24 will do to you.  It was OSU’s second-half three-point shooting (6-12) that gave the Cowboys as much as a 15-pt lead, but Stanford’s Jeremy Green (19/7) stepped up with a few timely shots to keep his team within striking distance.  We came away not very impressed with either team tonight, but clearly Oklahoma State should feel good about itself in getting a road win, even one against a Pac-10 team with half the fans not in the building tonight.

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RTC Live: Oklahoma State @ Stanford

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2009

RTCLive

Hello again everybody, it feels like it’s been a long layoff since we last did an RTC Live, but truth be told, it’s only been three days.  Still, by our count, this will be our 49th RTC Live game of the season, and we’re only about five weeks strong.  Tonight we’ll be heading to a new venue (for us), Stanford’s Maples Pavilion, for the eleventh game of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, which so far the Big 12 has dominated by a score of 8-2.  Both of these teams come into tonight’s game with question marks.  For the home team, Stanford has played up and down all season, losing games at San Diego and vs. Oral Roberts, yet taking the now-unbeaten and super-talented Kentucky Wildcats to overtime in the Cancun Challenge (a game that Stanford should have won).  Senior forward Landry Fields is their do-it-all player, coming into this game averaging 23/8/3 assts/3 stls per game as a high-volume contributor in both minutes and shots.   Sophomore guard Jeremy Green has become Johnny Dawkins’ second option, coming into this one averaging 15/4 and over three treys a game this year.  As for Oklahoma State, the Cowboys come into this game at 8-1 overall, but they lost their only true road game badly at Tulsa two weeks ago.  James Anderson is the foil to Landry, averaging 20/7 from the wing and featuring a vast array of athletic moves that create scoring opportunities.  That matchup should be an interesting one all night.  Maples is not an easy place to play when the fans are engaged, so this one (simulcast on FSN) should be a great environment for some December college hoops.  Join us for all the action tonight. 

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Checking in on… the Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2009

checkinginon

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Big West conferences.

Player of the WeekNic Wise (Arizona) – The 5-foot-10 warrior has willed the Wildcats to a few victories this season and posted 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists this week with a loss to Oklahoma and a win over 7-2 Louisiana Tech that could point Arizona in the right direction going into a tough stretch of the schedule. Some players score more points, but no player means more to his team than Wise does. He absolutely belongs in the Pac-10’s elite class of point guards with Jerome Randle and Isaiah Thomas.

Power Rankings

  • #16 Washington (6-2) – The Huskies finally got a double-figure performance from highly touted freshman guard Abdul Gaddy when he scored 11 in a win over Cal State Northridge, but he didn’t do much in a tough 74-66 loss against #13 Georgetown today.
  • California (6-3) – The preseason favorite to win the conference is still a damn good team, with losses to three quality opponents and one of the few victories in the lopsided Pac-10/Big-12 Challenge. The Golden Bears righted the ship this week with two blowout wins and have ten days between now and their next game, a true challenge on the road against the #1 Jayhawks. The conference’s deepest squad boasts four players in double figures and a likely Pac-10 Player of the Year candidate in point guard Jerome Randle.
  • Washington State (7-2) – The Cougars rebounded from consecutive losses with a win over Idaho this week. No secret here, but Washington State’s chances almost solely depend on guard Klay Thompson, who is currently balling out loud. The sophomore scores 25.8 per game, but posted just 18.5 in losses to Gonzaga and Kansas State.

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Checking in on… the Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

checkinginon

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com is the RTC correspondent for the Big West and Pac-10 Conferences.

Sometimes it’s not so painful to watch a once proud and mighty warrior fall from grace, as it is bizarre.  You may be able to accept that nothing lasts forever, and that eventually the tide must turn. But it’s one thing to have a rebuilding year, and quite another to be a national laughingstock.  Yet, that term best describes the way that Pac-10 teams have performed so far in this early season. It also describes the way that the conference’s flagship program, the UCLA Bruins, has performed so far in this early season.  The Pac-10, we knew, was a conference in decline. But few predicted that the decline would be so far, so fast.

The conference’s two Top 25 teams have each suffered losses to unranked, seemingly-lesser teams.  The conference was soundly beaten in this week’s Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge, losing each of Thursday night’s three games. In fact, until late Friday, the Pac-10 Conference has not won a single game since Monday night, when Arizona State defeated 0-5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  Obviously it’s early in the season, and this is a conference that will play its best basketball later in the season, but the Pac-10 was considered mediocre among the power conferences this season and has instead looked dreadful, while the two teams that did possess national potential are obviously flawed and UCLA continues to trip all over itself. It’ll take a lot for the Pac-10 to rebuild its reputation this season, so let’s take a look at what’s transpired thus far.

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ATB: Karl Hess Isn’t Invited to Our Thanksgiving Dinner Either

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2009

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Sean McDonough Rips Karl Hess.  Rarely will you hear an announcer publically call out an NCAA basketball official by name for a terrible call, but during the second half of the Vanderbilt-Arizona game tonight in the Maui Invitational, ESPN play-by-play man Sean McDonough ripped Karl Hess a new one for calling a bizarre quick-trigger technical foul on Arizona coach Sean Miller for protesting a cheapie on one of his players.  Another blog gives a much more detailed take than we will here, and we’re not really buying the gambling angle they suggest, but McDonough’s comments were without question incendiary and had us thinking that he might even face some sort of internal administrative censure for going after Hess so vigorously.  McDonough’s specific comments were that:

Karl Hess, he was involved in the 54-foul game the other night, and he’s one of these officials, unfortunately, who always finds a way, it seems, to be at the center of the action.  You don’t come here to watch him officiate, but more often than not, he finds himself at the center of attention.  And here he goes again over the scorer’s table to try to sort something out…

We found a video of the situation and posted it below — the relevant parts begin after the 2:00 mark, but there are comments throughout leading up to it.

OT Exotica.  We head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a couple of nice overtime battles in exotic locations for tournament titles.  Both were unexpected for completely different reasons.

  • #5 Kentucky 73, Stanford 65 (OT).  Even with Kentucky’s apparent growing pains in terms of defense and turnovers, nobody could have predicted that a team picked tenth in the Pac-10 that already has losses to San Diego and Oral Roberts would be able to hang with John Calipari’s stable of Wildcat stars  in the finals of the Cancun Challenge — even for a half.  Yet there was Johnny Dawkins’ Cardinal with a chance to seal the game away at the line as Jarrett Mann stepped to shoot two with under fifteen seconds remaining.  Problem is… and we see this with struggling teams all the time, Mann missed both.  That gave Kentucky wunderkind John Wall (23/4/5 assts) just enough of an opportunity to slice through the Stanford pressure to get into the lane for a foul and two free throws (which he nailed) with 2.4 seconds left.  This clutch performance came on the heels of another Kobe-style icewater jumper from the right side with thirty seconds left that had tied the game at 61-all.  In the overtime period, Stanford predictably fell apart and Kentucky’s other star freshman guard Eric Bledsoe hit a dagger three to salt the game away with 33 seconds to go.  The Cardinal should be proud of its performance, especially Landry Fields (23/13/3 assts/4 stls), who often appeared to be the best player on the court in this game (yes, just a mirage), but it’s now exceptionally clear that all the squawking Calipari has been doing about how far his team has to go is truth-speak.  The talent for this team to become something special is there, but it’s also painfully obvious that his Cats often rely on God-given abilities (especially on offense) rather than an actual understanding of strategy or the sets.  Decisionmaking by some players, especially DeMarcus Cousins, is also troubling in their naivete and youthful indiscretion.  For example, back to back horrendous decisions by Cousins late in the game to shoot a three (not his shot) and later to purposefully miss a FT attempt in a misguided attempt to get his own rebound only to foul Stanford in the process, exhibits these characteristics.  Kentucky has a chance to be very, very good, and when you have a release valve player like John Wall to cover up mistakes, that can go a long way, but there’s no doubt that UK has a lot of work ahead of it to reach its goals this season.
  • Gonzaga 61, Cincinnati 59 (OT).  The other really good game tonight was in the Maui Invitational finals, where those plucky little Zags from Spokane once again proved to the world that we should never take them lightly regardless of who they lose from year to year.  Mark Few’s team won its first Maui Invitational title behind a balanced scoring effort among its starters — Robert Sacre (14/5), Elias Harris (13/7), Steven Gray (13/7/4 assts), and Demetri Goodson (12/2).  The Zags’ supposed best player, Matt Bouldin, contributed the least offensively (6/11 on 1-7 FGs), yet the others stepped up and held off a very athletic and gritty Cincinnati team that looks nothing like the disaster that Mick Cronin inherited there a few years ago.  The Bearcats’ starting five is extremely athletic and talented, and nobody is going to want to face this team as it continues to develop together (remember, Lance Stephenson is brand new and Cashmere Wright is essentially so).  We were already high on Cincy but now we’re even moreso.  One tiny complaint, though.  When Cashmere Wright decides to take the game into his own hands as he did on the final drive in regulation, Born Ready needs to be ready to get to the rim for the putback and not stand around at the three-point line pouting that he didn’t get the ball.  Just sayin’…

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Northwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest, Mountains and Southwest) are located here.

It’s time for the tenth and final installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of cool, wet Pacific states known as the Northwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northwest Region (AK, WA, OR, northern CA)

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  • Matt Bouldin – G, Sr – Gonzaga.  As anyone in Spokane or among Gonzaga’s growing national fan base can tell you, most of the talk about Gonzaga this off-season has concerned itself with what the Bulldogs have lost.  Understandable, as the excellent Zag firm of Daye, Heytvelt, Pargo, and Downs are a tough bunch to replace, to say the least.  Consider also that Gonzaga is bringing in something like 37 freshmen onto this year’s squad, and one can easily conclude that Mark Few finds himself with his most interesting coaching predicament yet.  With such an inexperienced squad, what’s the one thing Few needs most?  A savvy, intelligent senior leader.  Enter Matt Bouldin, a 2010 preseason Wooden Award nominee to absolutely nobody’s surprise.  Check these stats from last year:  49.1% from the field, 42.3% from three-point range…but only 13.6 PPG.  Even with several other offensive options on his team, you’d expect a shooting guard with those percentages to average more than 13.6 PPG.  But, this means that when Bouldin does shoot, it’s usually a good shot in terms of shot selection, something coaches will tell you is one of the real keys to winning at this level, and an incredibly difficult thing to teach.  Mind you, those percentages are up from his sophomore season even though he registered more attempts as a junior.  Without a doubt, Bouldin’s touches and minutes will increase this season, despite leading last year’s team with 31.7 minutes a game.  He might need to get to the line a little more this year, but with his ability to take care of the ball, Coach Few should have no apprehension adding this to Bouldin’s responsibilites, if he chooses.  Bouldin’s 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio was third in the conference (behind two of his teammates!) and is exceptional for a shooting guard.  So go ahead, feel sorry for Gonzaga if you must.  We know what they lost, and we know Portland might be a fun pick in the WCC.  But with a coach like Few, a leader like Bouldin, and a non-conference pressure-cooker like the one Gonzaga has in store, if Portland so much as twitches, Gonzaga will take them down.  And look at their NCAA Tournament history.  Except for 2007, Gonzaga does best when they get a 10-12 seed and nobody’s looking.  Mark Few is spectacular when it comes to keeping numerous talented players happy and, perhaps better than anyone in the country, instilling in all of his players an immense pride in the name on the front of the jersey as compared with the one on the back.  When you watch Few’s Gonzaga teams, you can almost feel the love the players have for that uniform.  Matt Bouldin possesses this pride just as much as any of his Wooden-list predecessors like Morrison or Dickau.  We guarantee you — he will not go quietly.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #6 – Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2009

seasonpreview

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com is the RTC correspondent for the Big West and Pac-10 Conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. California  (13-5)
  2. Washington  (12-6)
  3. UCLA  (11-7)
  4. Oregon  (10-8)
  5. Arizona  (10-8)
  6. Stanford  (8-10)
  7. Oregon State  (8-10)
  8. Washington State  (7-11)
  9. Arizona State  (6-12)
  10. USC  (5-13)

All-Conference Team:

  • Nic Wise (G), Arizona
  • Jerome Randle (G), Cal
  • Patrick Christopher (F), Cal
  • Landry Fields (F),  Stanford
  • Michael Dunigan (C), Oregon

Impact Newcomer. Abdul Gaddy (G), Washington

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What You Need to Know.  A legendary NCAA powerhouse, the Pac-10 Conference practically owned property in the Final Four in recent years. Last season, though, no team made it to the promised land with a flurry of budding superstars bolting for the NBA – leaving the Pac-10 fumbling to reload with a full clip.  This season, the number of quality players is as high as ever, but they’re largely too young or inexperienced to consider the Pac-10 a national power this season. While UCLA and Arizona look to rebuild their storied histories from near scratch, only Washington and California return enough experienced talent to warrant much confidence, and its no coincidence that these two teams have been picked as preseason favorites to vie for the conference title.

Predicted ChampionCalifornia (NCAA Seed: #5) – Arizona attempts to begin a new legacy with the replacement of their iconic coach. UCLA starts from scratch after losing the core that took them to national heights. USC is facing stiff sanctions and has a tough season ahead of them after losing an array of stars. By comparison, California is a picture of consistency. The Bears return two all-conference first team players who will likely battle each other for POY honors this season. In Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, Cal boasts two experienced leaders who can each carry the team when need be. Add to that a deep bench and the nation’s best shooters, and this team is built for a Pac-10 championship, and beyond…

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes

  • Lute Olson compiled a 43-6 record against Arizona State. Since he took a leave of absence last year, Arizona is 0-4 against the Sun Devils.
  • Against ASU, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and Nic Wise all logged 40 minutes. For the year the three are each averaging over 35 minutes a game. They are the only team in the Pac-10 with three players averaging over 35 minutes a game. Come Pac-10 tournament time these three horses have to be tiring.
  • Oregon State swept the season series against Cal for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
  • Jerome Randle has 59 three-pointers this season putting him 9 shy of the school season record 68 set by Ryan Drew in 1990. With four games left and Randle averaging over two a game he stands a fighting chance at overtaking Drew.
  • Washington State’s win at UCLA last week was only their second win in their 53 games at Pauley Pavilion.
  • The battle for coach of the year in the Pac-10 has four solid candidates. With the jobs Mike Montgomery, Russ Pennell, Craig Robinson, and Lorenzo Romar have done, there is an excess of candidates to choose from.
  • Pennell is the front-runner right now in my mind. He turned this Arizona team around and has them at 8-6 in the Pac-10 and 18-9 overall. He was the second choice for interim coach in late October. Last year he did color commentary for Arizona State radio network.
  • Jon Brockman is the only mid-season candidate for the Naismith trophy from the Pac-10.

Player of the week: Taylor Rochestie
Rochestie scored 24.5 points a game for Washington State this week. Rochestie also averaged five rebounds and four assists a game. Rochestie scored 33 points in WSU’s upset of UCLA. He shot 5-for-7 from three-point range and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw stripe.

Honorable Mention: Darren Collison and Rihards Kuksiks
Collison scored 18.5 points and averaged 6.5 assists for UCLA this past week. Collison went a perfect 7-for-7 from the line in the two games. Kuksiks scored 17 points in Arizona State’s win this week. Kuksiks scored 15 of those on five three-pointers.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Pac-10 Tidbits.

  • Freshman extraordinaire Isaiah Thomas is averaging 16.5 points a game for Washington. His 413 points so far on the season are the second-highest point total for a freshman in Washington history.
  • Jon Brockman is putting together another solid season for the Huskies.  Against Oregon he registered his 54th double-double of his career. That is the most of any active player.
    • Jon Brockman, Washington      54
    • John Bryant, Santa Clara           45
    • Jeff Adrien, Connecticut           44
    • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame   43
    • Tyler Hansbrough, UNC           41
  • Brockman also holds the Washinton career record for rebounds with 1,159 and is the only Husky in history to total 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.  Check out this video the University of Washington made to market its All-American  candidate.
  • Arizona State’s season sweep of UCLA was their first since 2002-03 and first by any team over UCLA since Washington did it in 2005-06.
  • Arizona’s six-game conference winning streak is the longest by any Pac-10 team this year.
  • When you hear “Big Three” Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen shouldn’t come to mind, but rather Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise.  They have combined to account for 69 percent (1,303 of 1,877 points) of the Wildcats scoring.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News and Notes

  • Arizona State‘s Rihards Kuksiks leads the nation in 3-point percentage, but is only third in the Pac-10. How is that possible? Well NCAA statistical leaders need to make a minimum of 2.5 per game from three-point range to qualify, while Pac-10 needs to make one per game and play in 75 percent of the team’s games. Theo Robertson is shooting 56.2% and Michael Roll is shooting 54.5%, both ahead of Kuksiks’s 46.7%. Either way Kuksiks has had a tough time the past two games going 3-for-20 from behind the arc.
  • Ben Howland‘s 13-4 record against California is his best against any team in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA’s recent victory over Stanford was UCLA’s largest victory over Stanford at Pauley Pavilion in over 30 years. It was also UCLA’s highest scoring game under Howland. UCLA shot 73% from 3-point range and only 62% from the free throw line. Maybe they should start taking their foul shots from behind the arc.
  • California, the best three-point shooting team in the nation at 47%, shot 2-for-16 from three-point range against USC.
  • UCLA dominated teams this week. The Bruins went 3-0 with average margin of victory over 21 points.
  • Darren Collison, who earlier this year broke the UCLA record for consecutive free-throws with 43, is shooting 94.4% from the line, which leads the nation.
  • Craig Robinson has turned it around for Oregon State. The Beavers have four wins in the first half of the Pac-10 schedule for the first time since 2002-03.
  • After another week of ups and downs in the Pac-10, there are really only two locks for the tournament at this point: UCLA and Washington. Four others (Arizona, Arizona State, California, and USC) still have work to do.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes.

  • California’s 66.7% from the field against Oregon was the best any Pac-10 team has registered in conference play this year.  Theo Robertson of the Golden Bears still leads the nation in 3-point percentage shooting at a 55.2% clip. 
    Patrick Christopher is just 13 points shy of 1000, at 987.  Jerome Randle is right behind at 957.  Randle also is ninth in career 3-point field goals made at 125, and tenth in career assists with 313. Randle is also first in career free-throw percentage at 85.7%.
  • This is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  Washington has won 13 out of their last 14 games. It is the first time the Huskies have been in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 since January 2005. It is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  The only time the Huskies ever had a better start through seven games was 1953 when they went 7-0.  Last week Washington averaged getting to the free throw line 41.5 times a game.  If they keep getting to the line this much they will be hard to beat.
  • Arizona forward Jordan Hill’s 30 points and 18 rebounds against Houston, was his first game of his career that he broke the 20 point and 15 rebound plateaus.  Blake Griffin on the other hand has put together 10 such games so far this year. Aubrey Coleman’s face stomp of Chase Budinger was the most classless act I have seen in years.  He should have been suspended multiple games for that.  Each high-five he got while leaving the game, should have added a game to it.
  • Oregon State’s three victories so far match their total of the last two seasons combined.
  • Joe Lunardi currently has Arizona State, California, UCLA and Washington getting in the dance.  It is hard to see any other Pac-10 teams really making a push.  USC has been too inconsistent still and they are the only other team with a shot in my mind.

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