There were seven Pac-12 teams in action yesterday and only three came away with wins. Two of them were wins over Big Sky teams.
Let's start with the Washington State Cougars, who knocked off Eastern Washington, 75-49, in Pullman, despite being without Mychal Ladd, Abe Lodwick and Faisal Aden, who all sat out with different maladies. But former walk-on Charlie Enquist scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Enquist, a fifth-year senior post at Washington State, led all players with career highs of 20 points and 13 rebounds in a 75-49 rout of Eastern Washington.
“That’s as satisfying as it gets (after) all the sweat, blood and the coaches yelling at me,” Enquist said.
“But it feels good. Finally.”
Enquist, who had career totals of 50 points and 41 rebounds in 54 games prior to this season, set career bests in virtually everything. He went 7-for-8 from the field and 6-for-8 at the free-throw line before an appreciative crowd of 4,002 at Beasley Coliseum.
“He was outstanding,” WSU coach Ken Bone said. “Not a whole lot else to say.”
Enquist has always been praised for his work ethic and team-first attitude. The 6-foot-10, 235-pounder is playing regularly (and starting) for the first time since his glory days at little King’s High School in Edmonds.
“What I tried to do this summer in every workout, every stair we ran, every sprint we did, every time we were in the gym, I’d give my effort the fullest,” Enquist said.
“I’m glad to see it paying off. Finally.”
Looking for some good analysis. Craig Powers over at Coug Center tried to assess the value of Aden to the Cougs.
Overall, it was Wazzu's best defensive performance of the season (outside of Grambling - but that was more about them than WSU) and their best shooting night since Portland. This begs the question, what value does Aden bring to the Cougs? He plays a significant portion of the minutes, and uses far and away more possessions than any player on the team. There is no doubt he has offensive skill. He is shooting 42.4% from three, and might be the team's most consistent finisher on drives to the basket. However, his careless passing and inexplicable decisions to drive into triple-teams can hurt. He is a very streaky player. He might score eight points in a row, followed by a string of turnovers and bad shots.
If Aden were to be more selective with his shots and passes, he could very well be a highly efficient player. As it stands right now, he is offensive efficiency is at 96.0 (100 is average). He is below average despite an excellent 55.3 eFG%. If he wasn't constantly driving into defenders, losing control of his dribble, or making one-handed passes on the run, he could be generating a higher percentage of successful trips down the floor. The problem is, he is a senior. He played two years in junior college where he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted, and he has kept that same mentality as WSU. He is unlikely to change.
The bottom line here is that he possesses a skill set that is more in line with a guy who comes off the bench for short spurts and scores in bunches to jump-start the offense. He is too much of a defensive liability to left out in long stretches, and he needs a short leash in case he gets into one of his turnover modes. Having Aden start and play 70% of the minutes is most likely hurting this team much more than it is helping. However, he still has some value and it would be nice to see him utilized more effectively.I agree with this completely. Aden is a decent player. But he is a liability defensively. He lacks the physical strength and just isn't good defender. And he also has a tendency to take shots and look off open teammates. Does that make him a bad player? No. But it certainly doesn't make him a great player.
Other winners ...
Arizona again slogged its way through a first-half and struggled with Northern Arizona's deliberate style, but managed to pick up a 53-39 win.
Even during the Wildcats' 53-39 win Saturday over Northern Arizona, probably Arizona's weakest opponent yet, the Wildcats fell behind 14-7 early and were in a tie game after 14 minutes.
"I would love to be winning one time at the first media timeout," said Miller, the Wildcats' head coach. "No coach wants to be down every game."
While the first media timeout isn't until at least the first four minutes, the Wildcats usually haven't needed that long to get into trouble.
This is what Miller has seen in the first two minutes of Arizona's past five games: down 4-0 to St. John's, 7-0 to Mississippi State, 4-2 to San Diego State, 10-2 to New Mexico State and 2-0 to NAU.
The NMSU shortfall was quickly corrected to a 12-12 tie, but Arizona lost to San Diego State after its deficit snowballed to 21-4, and there's a pretty good chance another slow start Wednesday at 10th-ranked Florida would be insurmountable.Arizona State picked up the other win for the conference going to Tulsa and picking up a 67-63 win. Any road win for the league is a good thing.
Tulsa (4-5) may not be an NCAA Tournament team - the Golden Hurricane has lost five of six - but it's still a program that has won at least 19 games five straight years. For ASU (3-4) to come into town and steal a road win after losing four of five itself is evidence that the Sun Devils are growing up.
"We definitely looked forward to coming out here and testing ourselves," junior forward Trent Lockett said. "We responded to the adversity pretty well."
That adversity came early when Lockett played only 10 first-half minutes because of foul trouble and late, when the Sun Devils missed six free throws in the final 62 seconds.
But ASU got a terrific game from sophomore point guard Keala King, who finished with 18 points, four assists and three steals, and improbable lifts offensively from junior center Ruslan Pateev and freshman forward Jonathan Gilling.
Well, Pateev's eight points were as many as he scored in the first six games combined. And Gilling tied his season-high with six first-half points on a couple of 3-pointers.Now, let's get to the LOSERS ....
UCLA drops to 2-5 on the season, losing to Texas, 69-59, at the LA Sports Arena. Meanwhile Reeves Nelson was benched for the second half and Josh Smith played just four minutes in the second half because of conditioning issues. Damn, this team is a mess.
Reeves Nelson , UCLA's leading scorer and rebounder a year ago, didn't play a minute in the second half and Joshua Smith, the Bruins' third-leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer a year ago, played four of the final 20.
It is perhaps less noteworthy that UCLA lost to Texas, 69-59, Saturday at the Sports Arena than that junior forward Nelson spent most of the game on the bench laughing and pointing at people in the season-high crowd of 6,177 who were chanting his name or that sophomore center Smith didn't make it all the way up the court on more than one play as he would try to catch his breath.
Howland pointed to a missed defensive assignment in the first half and two bad practices leading into the game as reasons why Nelson didn't leave the bench in the second half and the continuing issue of Smith's lack of conditioning for his sit-down time.
"Reeves, it's up to him, to his mental part," Howland said. "He had a couple of practices that were not great and he missed a defensive assignment late in the first half when [Clint Chapman] dunked. Josh still has a lot to work to put in in terms of conditioning."Wow, just wow. This team was picked to win the league by the media, showing how much we know.
USC went on the road and lost at Minnesota, despite center Dwayne Dedmon making the start even though he has a stress fracture in his foot.
USC shot just 32.7% (16 for 49).
"We just couldn't score," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said by phone. "If you told me we'd only give up 55 points and have [only] 12 turnovers, I thought we were going to win." Oregon played BYU in Salt Lake City and lost 79-65
And Utah, which might not win a game in the Pac-12, went to Fresno and got hammered by Bulldogs. It is the worst start to a season in program history.
It wasn’t so much that there was anything new in this loss, this one to a team the Utes deeply believed they could beat, but simply that the trend is getting old.
“When you’re a competitor losses hurt,” junior center Jason Washburn said. “You try to make yourself numb to the feeling, but as a competitor it’s really hard to do.”
Washburn and junior guard Chris Hines each scored 12 points to lead Utah. Five Bulldogs scored in double digits.
The Utes fell to 1-6, the worst start to any season in the history of Utah basketball. They have lost six straight, the last four by an average 23.5 points. Saturday was the widest margin in any of the losses.
“It seems like we’re just getting stomped to the ground when we lose like that,” said guard Cedric Martin, who scored 10 points Saturday. “We don’t need that. Confidence is a big factor, because once you have confidence it feels like you can do whatever you want on the floor.”