Friday’s Shootaround: Pac-12 excitement, St. Mary’s pulls ahead


No. 9 Murray State 81, SEMO 73: See here.

The Pac-12: Since the Pac-12 has such a terrible TV and I spent the last three weeks on the road, tonight was the first night that I have actually been able to sit down and watch some Pac-12 basketball. It also happened to be arguably the best night of Pac-12 basketball this season. I think I’m spoiled.

Washington 71, UCLA 69: Washington overcame a late 10 point deficit as Terrence Ross scored 10 of UW’s final 12 points down the stretch to knock off UCLA and move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. Perhaps more importantly, Washington was able to make their run while Tony Wroten was stuck on the bench. Wahsington’s talented freshman came up lame midway through the second half, turning him into a liability on defense and hampering his explosiveness offensively.

We also finally got a chance to see just how good Joshua Smith is capable of being when he decides to play. The Washington native went for a career-high 24 points against the Huskies. The problem with Smith finally being motivated against Washington? It shouldn’t take a hometown crowd for him to be motivated. He needs to play like that at all times.

Arizona 78, Cal 74: Playing their first game without Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot last week, the Wildcats put together their most impressive performance of the season. After digging themselves a 22-9 hole, Arizona went on a 33-10 run. Over one stretch, the Wildcats hit 19 of 23 shots from the field. But Cal fought back from as much as 14 points down, eventually pulling even two possessions after Jorge Gutierrez and an Arizona assistant got into a bit of a scrap. In the end, however, Kyle Fogg was too much. He hit a big three to break the tie and block a potential game-tying three from Allen Crabbe.

This win was huge for Arizona. It keeps them relevant and it makes a statement. Avoiding a collapse on the road with a roster that young is a big deal. But the Cal loss is a bad thing for the Pac-12. The Bears probably have the best chance to earn an at-large bid of anyone in the conference, and the best chance of that happening would be for them to pull away from the Pac-12 pack. They had a chance to do that on Thursday but missed out.

– Colorado 82, Oregon State 60
– Oregon 79, Utah 68
– Stanford 68, Arizona State 44
– Washington State 60, USC 53

No. 5 Duke 75, Virginia Tech 60: Coach K implemented some changes heading into this game, both on the court (Seth Curry came off the bench in favor of Tyler Thornton) and off it (a ban on social media and a bus trip to Blacksburg instead of a chartered jet). It worked. Duke used a 13-2 run at the end of the first half to take control of the game and Austin Rivers — who finished with 18 points, five assists and five boards – played as well as he has all season long.

No. 24 St. Mary’s 84, San Diego 73: Rob Jones had 28 points and eight boards and Stephen Holt added 23 points as the Gaels maintained control of the WCC with a come-from-behind win over the Toreros. USD was up 42-38 at the break. The bigger news for St. Mary’s is this:

BYU 83, Gonzaga 73: BYU thoroughly dominated the Zags from the tip, opening a lead as big as 19 points in the second half, as they forced 19 turnovers and collected 14 steals. Noah Hartsock led the way with 24 points and 14 boards. The Gonzaga loss means that St. Mary’s now has a two game lead over the rest of the pack in the WCC.

Nevada 53, Utah State 52: Deonte Burton hit an off-balance three with 11.2 seconds left in the game to knock off a scrappy Aggie team. The Wolf Pack remain undefeated in WAC play and still have slim hopes of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Old Dominion 80, James Madison 71: Kent Bazemore led six scorers in double figures with 19 points and Chris Cooper went for 22 boards as the Monarchs as they pulled into a first place tie in the Colonial with VCU, GMU and Drexel.

Middle Tennessee State 68, North Texas 66: Marcos Knight had 19 points and the Blue Raiders used a 25-6 run to close the first half and open up a 10 point lead. They pushed that lead to 15 before UNT made a furious run down the stretch to make the game interesting. MTSU is still undefeated in Sun Belt play and has a chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

South Dakota State 75, Oral Roberts 60: The Jackrabbits moved to within a game of first place in the Summit League with an impressive win over Oral Roberts, getting revenge for an earlier loss in Tulsa. Nate Wolters led the way with 24 points and nine assists.

Iona 105, Canisius 86: Momo Jones had 43 points and Scott Machado added 14 points and 14 assists as the Gaels kept pace with Manhattan atop the MAAC standings.

Other notable scores:

– No. 11 Florida 74, South Carolina 66
– LIU 75, Bryant 70
– UNC-Asheville 89, VMI 86
– Weber State 92, Portland State 79

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.