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Sunday, December 20, 2009
Final thoughts on a wild Saturday

By Andy Katz

Was this just a post-finals funk? Something was amiss Saturday.

While the more traditional and somewhat predictable teams held serve -- like Texas running away from North Carolina, Duke playing harder and defending tougher than Gonzaga and top-rated Kansas holding serve once again at home -- there seemed to be something askew across the land.

Dwight Lewis led all scorers with 21 points in Saturday's win.
The Pac-10, which was headed for an abyss, managed to pull off the biggest stunner of the day. USC pounded SEC East title contender Tennessee at the Galen Center in what was the most lopsided loss of the Bruce Pearl Era. The USC staff had stated privately that transfer guard Mike Gerrity would be a huge lift once he got eligible. Having a healthy Alex Stepheson in the post was also supposed to be a major lift.

Well, Gerrity was 10-of-11 at the free throw line, with 10 assists (and six turnovers) and Stepheson was a force in the middle with 19 points and 15 boards. The win over the Vols is by far the best nonconference win of the season for the Pac-10 -- the first against any ranked team.

The Trojans are a long shot to get an NCAA at-large berth after losing at Texas, Georgia Tech and at home to Nebraska in its other power six matchups. But with the way the Pac-10 is wide open, why not give the Trojans a shot if they have somehow figured out how to play going forward, especially with Kevin O’Neill settling in as head coach.

Some more observations on a wacky Saturday of hoops: