UCLA achieved 7 points in less than 3 minutes (took them 20+ last year) and they trickled the floor at Pauley as they should have. Teams don’t often knock off the #1 team in the country and – for a school oft criticized for its fan base – it was good to see them celebrate a little and show up. Meanwhile, ASU knocked off a top-25 team (rare) and did it in their new gold attire which I actually thought was sharp (also, rare). Of course for a full run down and the teams ranked by order of power, as well as what I did on Friday night of this bounce back week for the Pac…
He did it again:
But then he also scored 18 points including four consecutive threes in leading this sort-of-youthful-sort-of-veteran Arizona team to a true road win in the Dog’s Kennel. You know, back in 2012, with West Coast basketball in flux and the Pac-12’s champion wasn’t invited into the NCAA tournament while “traditional powers” Arizona and UCLA couldn’t earn bids either, the San Diego State Aztecs and the Gonzaga Bulldogs were dancing. They were 6 and 7 seeds, respectively. The Aztecs were a year removed from a 2-seed, the Bulldogs a year away from a 1-seed. The hell was happening? Since that tipping year, a season in which Arizona lost to both SDSU and Gonzaga, the Wildcats are 7-0 against the upstarts. The rest of the conference, meanwhile, hasn’t defeated the Zags since 12/8/2011 and only this season did they manage a first win against SDSU since 12/19/2009. Alas, while the Wildcats might own the West Coast, that game was f*cking weird. Few people I’ve discussed it with can explain Arizona’s victory. But they won.
Speaking of ownership, the Utes took the Holy War for the third consecutive year. They also beat a school who’s mascot is a Mastodon and does a far more efficient of acronyzing than IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indiana vs Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne). Alas – and I promise not to exhaust this – let’s take a run down Jakob Poeltl’s stats and (national ranks):
- 21.3 ppg (21st)
- 9.9 rpg (25th)
- 2.50 bpg (26th)
- 69% FG% (12th)67% FT% (no idea but that’s LEAPS AND BOUNDS – or 20-percentage points – better than his 44% last season)
We first have to note that UCLA’s 122.5 offensive efficiency against Kentucky’s top rated defense was the 6th most efficient effort against a Calipari led Kentucky team. Moving on to me and loyal PacHoops readers, we read a quantification of Thomas Welsh as the king of the mid-range jumper last Thursday, hours before UCLA would upset UK. And then, while UCLA was claiming the conference’s biggest win since Colorado’s 2013 defeat of #6 Kansas, everyone else qualified Welsh’s skill:
Thomas Welsh hits that midrange jumper from the elbow and baseline in his sleep. UK needs to find someone to push him out of his spots. — Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) December 4, 2015
The Thomas Welsh mid-range jumper is the pride of the Conference of Champions. #UKvsUCLA — Tyson Winter (@Tyson_Winter) December 4, 2015
UCLA knocks off No. 1 Kentucky, 87-77. Controlled from start to finish. I think Thomas Welsh just made another jumper. — Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) December 4, 2015
But this isn’t about me. This is about Thomas Welsh – the Pac-12 Player of the Week – and further affirmation that, 1) College basketball is way down this year, 2) UCLA has talented pieces – we’ve always known – and now we perhaps understand the heights those talents can reach, and 3) [insert Aladdin joke]
I was at an App Launch party Friday night. It was peak tech bubble for me, I’ll maybe tell my kids about it. But for now I’m telling you because amidst the free alcohol, beautiful women, and incredible beats being spun by a guy in the corner, I was on my phone feverishly reading tweets about Tyler Dorsey’s knee. People were upset and scared (on Twitter about Dorsey’s knee not at me for being on my phone at a tech haven). The talented freshman had evidently fallen awkwardly and had been helped off the floor. I hate watching injury replays so I hope you didn’t have to see it. One person even fretted for the young man’s career. But then the Tweets turned more positive as Dorsey jogged back onto the floor. I ordered myself an open bar Scotch, understood that a UNLV road loss for the Ducks really wasn’t a big deal, and tried to find a technology co-founder for all of my
innocuous disruptive basketball monetization ideas.
5. Arizona State
This was a big week for Sun Devil basketball – THEY BEAT A TOP-25 TEAM! Now to put that into context – because it’s all we have – the Sun Devils haven’t done that to a team not named A-R-I-Z-O-N-A since 2013. They hadn’t beat a top-20 team (Texas A&M was ranked #18) since The Beard was slaying Tempe. Big week before they go to Big Blue Nation. Good luck.
Because a win over a D-2 school shouldn’t impress anyone and CSU had better be business taken care of, I present to you:
Is the defense going to get better? The offense certainly has and if you watched the final four minutes of Cal vs. Seattle, you knew just how good that offense can be. Or maybe it’s you knew just how individually skilled – bullying capabilities if you will – the Bears are. But Cuonzo’s Killers still – still – haven’t won anything and their defense is mathematically worse than last year. Another thing to note would be Cal’s 316th ranked A/FGM. Share the ball fellas!
8. Oregon State
Interestingly enough, the Beavers are shooting greater than 40% from beyond the arc (41.1% ranking them 27th nationally) which is nearly 10-percentage points better than they shot last year. Sustainable? Wayne Tinkle thinks so. Conversely, the defense has been about on par with last season.
USC is the fourth highest rated Pac-12 team by KenPom rating right now. Will just leave that here for December 8th.
The Dawgs aren’t going to be particularly good this year. So I think I’d like to draw our attention – perhaps weekly – to just how swiftly the LoRos are playing. Because we used to love how quickly those teams played. The 2005 Dawgs (29-6 and an NCAA #1 seed) scored 87 points per game. They, however, had an offensive efficiency of 119 on their 73 possessions per game. These Dawgs (Puppies, I believe), are currently at a whopping 77 nightly possessions, with an underwhelming efficiency of 103. It’s actually quite impressive what these guys are doing. They are second in the nation in APL (6th in tempo) with the 263rd worst effective FG% (45.9%) and the 7th best offensive rebounding rate. Basically what that means is – the Huskies are taking quick shots, missing, then taking another quick shot…and missing that. They’re going to be fun.
Lost to Gonzaga. The news here would be that they got to play Gonzaga who wants to end this long standing rivalry because…well because WSU isn’t on Gonzaga’s level right now. In related news, Arizona and Gonzaga announced a home-and-home starting next season.
DNP. But Christian McCaffery will be in New York this weekend.