The Pac-12 hasn't had many undefeated nights in the preseason. This is a league that hasn't beaten a single opponent ranked in the Top 25 and can't beat a WCC team either.
But last night, against some lesser competition, the league got three wins.
Down in Los Angeles, UCLA picked up its third straight win after the departure of Reeves Nelson and fourth straight overall . Of course, it helps when you aren't playing that tough of competition as evidenced by last night's 89-60 win over UC Irvine.
UCLA improved to 6-5 with an 89-60 win against UC Irvine on Tuesday before 4,090 at the Sports Arena, marking the first time this season its win column had more notches than its loss column.
The Bruins have won four in a row — all against relatively creampuff competition: Pennsylvania, Eastern Washington , UC Davis and Irvine, which fell to 2-9 and has lost three straight.
Still, any win looks good for UCLA after its disastrous start, when it lost four of its first five by double digits. That said, there's little doubt the Bruins are night-and-day different from that team.
"Guys are really coming together," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.
Is it because volatile forward Reeves Nelson was dismissed Dec. 9?
"That's the reason why I removed Reeves," Howland said. "It has improved our chemistry." Peter Yoon of ESPN LA has five observations from the game.
Down in Tucson, the Arizona Wildcats picked up an 85-73 win over the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland University. Junior forward Solomon Hill scored a career-high 23 points in the win.
Postgame interviews with Solomon Hill are like few others, and they demand your attention.
The Arizona junior forward, who scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Wildcats past the prolific shooters of Oakland 85-73 on Tuesday at McKale Center, will usually dissect the game with a coach's precision and intensity.
And he'll often cast his head downward, peering into the table before him, and take the blame for any number of things.
It may be a product of a cerebral, mature approach to the game but an approach that, the way UA coach Sean Miller sees it, can occasionally also be dangerous.
"He has as big of a motor as any kid I've been around to get better," Miller said. "Once in a while that motor can work against him, because he wants it so bad that to me he almost self-imposes pressure."In Eugene, the Oregon Ducks picked up a 58-45 win over North Carolina Central.
That defensive effort allowed the Ducks to overcome a spotty performance at the offensive end, where Oregon shot 32.7 percent from the field and still five minutes into the second half had more points off free throws than field goals.
“We were trying to do things a little too fast,” UO’s Garrett Sim said of Oregon’s early offensive woes. “In the second half, our defense turned into offense and really got us going.”
That it did. The Ducks (7-3) used it to hold NCCU (5-6) to a season-low for points, on 29.5 percent shooting, along with 16 turnovers by the Eagles, 13 of them in the final 20 minutes.
“I liked our attention to detail on the defensive end,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “In the second half we really caused some turnovers with our defense.
“In the first half, I liked how hard we played defensively but we didn’t make anything happen with it.” Elsewhere around the league ...