College Basketball Nation: Washington State

Behind the box scores: Thursday's games

February, 3, 2012
2/03/12
8:01
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Thursday.

Iona 105, Canisius 86 and Weber State 92, Portland State 79
Iona’s Lamont Jones poured in 43 points and Weber State’s Damian Lillard scored 40 in the their teams’ victories. Lillard became the first player this season to record two 40+ point games, and Thursday marked the first time this season two players eclipsed the 40-point plateau on the same day.

Western Carolina 82, Chattanooga 76
Western Carolina’s Keaton Cole attempted 19 3-pointers in the win, tying him with Iona’s Sean Armand for the most in a regulation game this season. Cole is the only player to have three games with at least 15 3-pointers attempted; he scored 18 points in all three games. Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin attempted 20 3-pointers in the Terrapins’ 90-86 double-overtime loss to Miami (FL) on Wednesday.

Pacific 60, UC Riverside 52
Pacific’s Ross Rivera made 15 free throws in 21 minutes off the bench, the most made free throws by a substitute this season.

Trillion of the Night: Eric Strangis of Southern Cal played 10 minutes without accumulating a stat in the Trojans’ 60-53 loss at Washington State.

Numbers to know: Pac-12 all gobbled up

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
12:52
PM ET
Harvard continues to roll
The newest members of the Pac-12 would probably be fine not seeing Harvard on their schedule in the near future. Last year, Colorado took an 8-1 all-time record against the Ivy League into Cambridge, but fell to Harvard 82-66. On Thanksgiving, it was Utah's turn. Harvard won 75-47, the fewest points the Utes have scored since February 2007. With multiple 10-0 runs in the first half, Harvard actually led 49-24 at halftime before resting its starters. The Crimson entered this one 1-19 all-time against current Pac-12 members. Harvard is now an impressive 6-8 against power conference schools under Tommy Amaker. Utah falls to 0-3 against Division I opponents.

More bad news for the Pac-12
It’s not often that the MAAC beats the Pac-12 despite shooting just 33.9 percent from the field. Fairfield toppled Arizona State 55-44, defeating a Pac-12 school for just the second time in school history and the first time since 1978-79. It was the Sun Devils’ lowest point total against a nonconference foe since scoring 43 against Iowa in 2003. Former Boston College starter Rakim Sanders scored a game-high 21 for the Stags. In addition to Thursday’s losses to the Ivy and MAAC, the Pac-12 has been taken down by the Big Sky, Big West and Sun Belt, among other conferences. In fact, the Pac-12 is just 24-14 against D-I schools in non-power conferences. Compare that to the Big East (57-6), Big Ten (44-2) and Big 12 (27-2).

Grooms is best man against Washington State
Not much is expected out of Oklahoma, which finished 14-16 last season and lost its top scorer in Cade Davis. But the Sooners improved to 3-0 with a 74-59 win over Washington State. It was the first-ever meeting between these schools. Sam Grooms, one of the nation’s top junior college transfers, handed out 10 assists compared to just one turnover. He’s just the second Sooner in the past seven seasons with a game of 10 or more assists and fewer than two turnovers. Tommy Mason-Griffin did it in 2009. This is when it got ugly for Oklahoma last season. After a 3-0 start, the Sooners dropped five straight games, including a loss to Chaminade.

Florida State’s defense feasts on UMass
Things had been looking good for Massachusetts, following a 4-0 start that included a drubbing of in-state rival Boston College. Then came Florida State's defense and a 73-53 loss. UMass was held to 27.9 percent shooting from the field and went 2-for-23 from 3-point range. It was their worst performance from beyond the arc since missing all 12 threes against Richmond in 2006. The starting lineup combined for a 24.3 field goal percentage, and Chaz Williams was the only Minuteman to register an assist. Florida State is holding opponents to a 32.1 field goal percentage, sixth lowest in the nation.

Clanton does it all for UCF
The line of the day belonged to UCF's Keith Clanton. In a 74-63 win over Charleston, he feasted for 28 points and 14 rebounds on 70.6 percent from the field. Clanton is averaging 24.0 points per game and 14.5 rebounds per game over the past two games. There have been 19 games of 20 or more points and 14 or more rebounds this season, but Clanton is the only player to have done it twice.
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the day's best basketball action. We're officially into that oh-so-awesome part of the season when a healthy portion of your daily hoops regimen will be happening during the day, necessitating Saddle Up's move to the morning. So let's do this.

Because trying to Saddle Up for every specific game on today's raucous conference tournament slate seems somewhat foolish (if not downright impossible) let's instead highlight five numbers, concepts or jargon you should watch out for in the next, oh, 16 hours or so. We'll cover every single game tomorrow, when the task is especially Sisyphean. More fun that way, right?

Special note: I'll be chatting the entire day starting at 12 p.m., alongside Brett, Diamond, and a whole batch of the college hoops faces you know and love. Join us, won't you?

OK, onto the things:

1. Big East bubble madness! The best conference in all the land features at least three teams sitting soundly on the bubble entering today's games -- Seton Hall (probably out), South Florida (probably out) and Notre Dame (probably in). South Florida has the best chance of all three to make an impression on the committee with its second-round game against No. 22 Georgetown. The Hoyas are still a ranked, talented team, but one that's very susceptible to upset, and the Bulls have the confidence of knowing they can beat John Thompson III's team anywhere in the country. (Thanks to Dominique Jones' 29 points and eight rebounds, the Bulls beat Georgetown at the Verizon Center on Feb. 3.)

South Florida's bubble standing will have a lot to do with how Seton Hall -- first-round survivors of one of the craziest games you'll ever see -- fares against Notre Dame. The Pirates have played themselves back into the tournament conversation in recent weeks; beating a hot Notre Dame team in the midst of its own late-season tournament run would be a nice little boost. One of the worst in the conference on the defensive end, Seton Hall will have to either find a way to stop Notre Dame's league-leading points-per-possession numbers ... or do its best to keep pace. Either way, both games should be entertaining. (And South Florida-Georgetown tips in a few minutes. Get that ESPN360 loaded!) Oh, and don't forget about Cincinnati, which could use a win over Louisville and then some to get back into bubbleland.

2. Big 12 bubble sadness! The Big East is full of bubble and seeding implications. The Big 12? Not so much. Joe Lunardi currently lists the Big 12's top seven seeds -- Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma State -- as locks for the tournament. The remaining five teams -- Colorado, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Nebraska -- aren't at all on the bubble. It would take a momentous run by any of those five to mean something for bubble purposes. Do any of them have what it takes? Eh. Doubtful. But funny things happen in tournaments, and if any of the bottom five have a chance at a run, we'll seed the seeds of that run in today's first four games.

3. It ain't easy being Northeast. Without getting too fatalist, a word of advice for the Northeast conference tournament winner, which will be either Robert Morris or Quinnipiac: Live it up. The Northeast champion would do well to enjoy tonight's celebration, because being in the NCAA tournament and being from the NEC has for 28 years meant one thing: a first-round tournament loss. Yes, the NEC has been in the tourney for almost three decades now, but the entrant has never won a first-round tournament game, according to the uber-helpful folks from ESPN research. If No. 1 seed Quinnipiac finishes the job, the Bobcats will have won the NEC and made the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. And it'll be the first school to start with the letter Q to ever play in the Big Dance. Triple the party! Could a first NCAA tournament win be all that far behind?

4. The Pac-1? Or 2? Consensus on the Pac-10 has remained relatively stable since, oh, November: This is a one-bid league. Arizona State and Washington have both crept closer and closer to the tournament in the last few weeks, but both are still on the outside looking in; Mike Montgomery's Cal team is the lone at-large inclusion. That said, if either team can force its way through the first few rounds of the Pac-10 tournament -- or, obviously, win it -- they could potentially turn the Pac-10 into a two-big league with an option for three. Bad news for bubble teams. Good news for the west coast's most prominent, and most disappointing, conference.

Which is all a long way of saying that the Pac-10 tournament starts today, officially, with one totally forgettable game: Washington State-Oregon. There is a slight bit of drama here, though, regarding Oregon coach Ernie Kent's job. Yesterday, Kent told his players he'll be out as coach after the season is over. Will the Ducks win one (or, preferably for Ernie, three) for the Gipper? Or will they, like so many other teams faced with obvious coaching turmoil, fold in and end the season on a dour note?

5. The big country. Clean air and kitchens full of food aren't the only reason to turn your attentions westward today. No, there's a rather intriguing conference tournament match up on hand -- Weber State vs. Montana -- the winner of which will represent the Big Sky conference in the NCAA tournament. Both are familiar names; the Wildcats and the Grizzlies share the most conference tournament titles in league history, and today's game will mark the fifth time the two have met to decide the title. Look out for Weber State sophomore guard Damian Lillard, the purest scorer you've never heard of.

Forde observations: Big win for SDSU

February, 13, 2010
2/13/10
6:35
PM ET
Six o'clock thoughts:

  • San Diego State would love to make the Mountain West Conference a four-bid league, but the Aztecs could actually cut it to two. Their victory over UNLV might come closer to pushing the Rebels out of the tournament than getting Steve Fisher's team in it. This was a two-loss week for UNLV.
  • Texas' 40-point detonation of Nebraska only reinforces the talent at Rick Barnes' disposal -- and only reinforces the puzzlement over why that talent can become so dysfunctional at times lately.
  • How bad is the Pacific-10? Right now it's a one-bid league, and the team that looks like the best of the sorry lot -- California -- might not play enough defense to even win a game in the NCAAs. The Golden Bears won, but were lit up at home by Washington State's Klay Thompson for 28 points and the Cougars shot 51 percent from the field, but couldn't hold a second-half lead (again).
The Morning After is our semi-daily recap post. Try not to make it awkward.

Seton Hall 80, Louisville 77: Wednesday was a night of streaks. Memphis lost its conference win streak; DePaul broke its conference losing streak; Pitt ceded its Big East home game streak, and so on. Louisville might as well have played on Wednesday night, as the Cardinals lost for the third time in a row for the first time since 2005-06. If that seems confusing, it's not just the awkward phrase. That's how good Louisville has been in the Big East for the past three years, and in 2009-10, for whatever reason, the Cardinals are managing to post efficient statistics and numbers and still look utterly mediocre in the win column. That's what's most confusing: Why isn't this Louisville team better? Or, more precisely, why isn't this Louisville team, which appears on paper to be one of the best four or five teams in the Big East, so apparently unable to turn that efficient profile into wins?

No. 20 Butler 48, Loyola (IL) 47: Perhaps the most important thing for Butler is they survived, and won, a game in which they made .08 points per trip, posted a 38.4 FG percentage, went to the free throw line on a mere 17 percent of their possessions, and were out-rebounded on the offensive end almost 2-to-1. Still, though, that is an ugly performance. Even against mediocre Horizon League teams like Loyola, Butler won't be able to play this badly and expect to make it through the conference slate unbeaten, which is pretty much what they have to do to secure an at-large bid and not worry about the pressures of the conference tournament come March. If you wanted to over-analyze the game, you could say that surviving and winning on the road on such a bad night was a good thing, that it proved Butler's mettle, or something. Or you could just call it what it is: a bad game that Butler can't afford to replicate all that often.

Indiana 67, Penn State 61: Indiana fans have had a weird relationship with this year's IU team. Most went into the season with some cautious optimism, only to have that optimism simultaneously piqued and dashed week in and week out. Tom Crean's team is capable of beating Pitt in Madison Square Garden, only to lose Loyola (MD) at home a week later. This is the kind of up-and-down, tweener season Crean is having right now: His team can play inspired, coherent basketball and challenge and even topple superior teams ... and then a night later can toss in horrid, ugly performances that have some of the more strident IU fans already questioning the length of Crean's contract. (Kentucky fans get a bad rap for being too hard on coaches, but IU fans deserve a shout-out: That some are already nibbling at the edges of his popularity is kind of shocking. What did you expect? Things were screwed up before, and Crean is trying to make them less screwed up, and you're going to blame him when the process takes longer than you hoped? Note that you could, were you so inclined, substitute Barack Obama's name in for Tom Crean's ... but let's not go down that road.)

Anyway, the point is that Thursday night was one of IU's Dr. Jekyll nights. Penn State is a bad team, but Big Ten road wins were an absolute impossibility last season. Crean has his team at .500 after 18 games. Given the circumstances he inherited, that's worthy of some measure of respect.

No. 10 Gonzaga 91, Pepperdine 84: Today's AP wrap makes note of the history of Pepperdine-Gonzaga, when both teams used to contend for the WCC every year, when both teams used to make it to the NCAA tournament, when both teams were mid-major darlings (even if Gonzaga hogged most of the press). Those days are basically over: Gonzaga has emerged the victor, becoming a national power a ubiquitous national profile and Nike shorts in every sports good store in the country. Pepperdine has receded in WCC mediocrity. But last night, the two teams had one of their trademark duels, the kind that harkened back to the glory days of the late 1990s, and Gonzaga needed a career-high 32 points from Matt Bouldin and a 20-and-13 from freshman Elias Harris to get past the Waves at home. One more note on Harris: Most reading this blog will already know this, but Elias Harris should be in contention for every freshman award there is. It's not that he'll win all of them -- John Wall, John Wall, John Wall -- but Harris' performance deserves national attention. He's special.

Everywhere else: Florida notched a big SEC road win over Arkansas, 71-66 ... Utah State cruised in Fresno ... Siena stayed unbeaten in the MAAC with a six-point win over Loyola (MD) ... Isiah Thomas' FIU team dropped to 6-16 overall with a 15-point loss to Arkansas State at home ... Cal utterly destroyed Oregon in Berkeley ... Oregon State scored 35 points in a 60-possession game and promptly lost to Stanford; more on this later ... Washington State beat a lifeless USC team in L.A. ... and UCLA caused its fans to rush the court with a home win over Washington. More on this later, too. In the meantime be sure to check out Diamond's live coverage of the game from Pauley Pavilion.
Saddle Up is a quick preview of the basketball your TV wants you to watch tonight. Here's Thursday night's rundown.

Louisville at Seton Hall, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: If I told you Louisville was almost exactly as efficient a basketball team as Syracuse, would you believe me? Probably not: Syracuse has one loss and is a favorite to make the Final Four; Louisville already has two losses in the Big East and is still apparently rebuilding from last year's Earl Clark-Terrence Williams dual exodus. But it's true! Louisville has been a pretty darn efficient team so far in the Big East, tying Syracuse with a plus-.11 efficiency margin, good for fourth in the conference. Louisville plays very good offense (largely thanks to its No.5-ranked offensive rebounding percentage) and serviceable defense. Louisville's problem is fouls: The Cards give up way too many trips to the line to opposing teams, a stat that makes Pitino's style of play -- pressing, pushing, forcing teams to play fast and scattered -- much more difficult to pull off. Seton Hall, meanwhile, needs a to start a flurry of Big East wins if it wants to sniff the NCAA tournament; the Hall's weak non-conference schedule make a Big East run imperative. At 1-3 so far, it's not looking good.

Florida at Arkansas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: Speaking of teams that need to start rattling off conference wins: Florida. This is a team that doesn't shoot particularly well, and combines that problem with its stunning inability to get to the free throw line. Florida is No. 302 in the country in free throw rate. This is very bad; either the Gators need to figure out a way to shoot better, or they need to figure out a way to get to the line. One or the other could cause a veritable renaissance in Gainesville. Neither will see the Gators left out of the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.

No. 20 Butler at Loyola (IL), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN360: Butler has an interesting conundrum on its hands. Because the Bulldogs fared somewhat poorly in their non-conference slate -- the same non-conference slate that could have pushed them into high-seed territory come March, had things gone as planned -- Butler finds itself needing to win almost every league game to avoid needing to win the Horizon League tournament to guarantee its NCAA bid. Fortunately, the Horizon League isn't chock full of talented teams, at least not as talented as Butler. Unfortunately, that doesn't matter. What'd we learn Wednesday night? (And, you know, in every college basketball tournament ever?) Upsets happen. The Bulldogs could slip and still make the tournament as an at-large bid, but it won't be a guarantee. This means that every league game Butler plays -- even against opponents like Loyola, which is 3-4 in Horizon League play -- is important and nervy. Sounds like fun, right?

Everywhere else: There's a big slate of Pac-10 games this Thursday, including Washington-UCLA, where our man Diamond Leung will be on the scene. If you desperately want to watch a desperately unwatchable conference, there's also Oregon State-Stanford, Oregon-Cal, and Washington State-USC ... Gonzaga will take on Pepperdine at home, which used to be a much better game, but should still provide some exciting moments ... Indiana and Penn State will do battle in the three-team race (the third team is Iowa, natch) not to be the worst team in the Big Ten which, given the other two teams in each's equation, would be very bad indeed ... Siena will look to stay perfect in the MAAC ... and last but not least, Utah State will travel to Fresno to help settle in a match up of 3-2 WAC teams. Also, Jersey Shore is on. You know you're going to watch. Don't lie to me.

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