Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cal Poly Embarrasses UCLA

Cal Poly 70, #11 UCLA 68
This loss was horrific for UCLA in so many ways. First of all, the mere fact that they lost to Cal Poly (a program that had not beaten a Pomeroy Top 150 team since upsetting Pacific on January 22, 2009) is embarrassing. Second of all, they lost this game despite leading by 18 points with fewer than 12 minutes to go. And third, the winning points for Cal Poly came after Norman Powell "committed a Jamelle Horne", in honor of the former Arizona Wildcat who cost his team a game against UAB in November, 2008 when he lost track of the score and intentionally fouled 70 feet from the basket with 0.4 seconds left in a tied game. Here, Powell intentionally fouled Kyle Odister around 60 feet from the basket with 14.2 seconds left in a tie game.

UCLA fans will argue that the team only lost because they couldn't hit a shot late. And that's partially true, but it misses the larger point. For the game as a whole, Cal Poly didn't shoot better. They forced four more steals, collected two more offensive rebounds and committed one fewer turnover. They were, overall, the slightly better team.

The results for UCLA this season have been less than impressive. Their best win was by four points over a mediocre Georgia team, and they also have a loss to Georgetown. I'm not ready to project the type of total meltdown that this program had in 2009-10, but they are going to have to play better to earn an at-large bid, let alone contend for the Pac-12 title. They will play Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, followed by San Diego State on Saturday. Cal Poly, meanwhile, has a few days to celebrate this win before heading on the road to play St. Mary's on Saturday.

#14 Creighton 87, Arizona State 73
Creighton was uncharacteristically cold from the field here. Their 34.8 3P% and 54.0 eFG% were both their second lowest marks of the season so far. And they had to overcome a huge game from Arizona State redshirt freshman Jahii Carson (30 points, 7 assists, 4 assists). But the overall talent gap between these two teams is massive, and Creighton played well enough to win relatively easily. Doug McDermott led the way for Creighton with 29 points and 9 rebounds.

Creighton looked awfully good in Vegas, and they're playing like a team that can seriously contend for the Final Four. The concern for them is that they lack a lot of big names on their schedule, and so they're going to struggle to earn anything higher than a 4 seed in March. Wisconsin will likely be the best team they play all year. Their remaining tough non-conference games will be against St. Joseph's, California, Boise State and Akron. The Boise State game is up first, on Wednesday.

Arizona State fans have to be extremely encouraged by Jahii Carson. The star recruit was expected to save their down-and-out team last season, but he failed to qualify academically and couldn't play in games. But he's off to a great start to this season, and is already looking like one of the best freshmen in the entire nation. He's averaging 21.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. They're a long way from contending for the postseason, but they're definitely playing a lot better than last season. They head home now for a series of cream puffs, beginning with Arkansas Pine Bluff on Wednesday.

Oklahoma 77, West Virginia 70
This result just reinforced for me the idea that West Virginia isn't very good this season. All of their key players looked relatively good - even Deniz Kilicli poured in 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting. And yet they fell quietly to an Oklahoma team that is a bubble team at best. I'm not totally sure why West Virginia is so "eh" this year other than that they really aren't that good at anything. They can't do anything well consistently, other than maybe offensive rebounding.

That white hot shooting West Virginia had against Marist looks to be an aberration. They have lost to the three quality opponents they have played, and only have games left against Michigan and Virginia Tech to try to salvage something from their non-conference slate. They head home now to play VMI tomorrow.

I think Oklahoma will come home from the Old Spice Classic feeling good about how they played. They fell to Gonzaga, but the Zags look like one of the ten best teams in the nation, so there's no shame there. With wins over UTEP and West Virginia, the Sooners get a third place finish. They will play at Oral Roberts tomorrow before heading home to play Northwestern State on Friday.

No comments: