No. 8 Arizona (13-1) was one of the trio to win away from home, picking up a 94-82 win at Arizona State (10-4, 0-1)—the Wildcats first win in Tempe in three years. Gabe York led the visitors with 22, while Kaleb Tarczewski returned from foot injuries to score eight in 15 minutes. Sun Devil head coach Bobby Hurley picked up two technicals, and egged on the Wells Fargo Arena crowd (pictured above) on his way out.
The Los Angeles schools combined for one win in four games in Washington. First, USC (12-3, 1-1) coughed up a 22-point lead in the final 14 minutes to fall at Washington (10-4, 2-0), 87-85. The collapse occurred after Trojan guard Julian Jacobs, who remained tied as USC's high scorer (15) on the afternoon even after his departure, turned his ankle. Freshman Dejounte Murray put up 29 for the Huskies, who aren't out of the bid picture by a long shot. On the other hand, the Trojans Thursday home game against Arizona State looks like an early bubble encounter. Around bedtime on the East Coast, No. 25 UCLA (9-6, 0-2) sealed its departure from the rankings with an 85-78 loss at Washington State (9-5, 1-1) that wasn't as close as the score indicates. The Bruins next host league favorite Arizona on Thursday in a vital showdown for their NCAA hopes.
Oregon State (10-2, 1-0) dunked all over visiting Oregon (11-3, 0-1), 70-57, with Gary Payton II scoring 12 and dishing out six assists, while Tres Tinkle put up 19. The Bay Area schools travel to Corvallis and Eugene next, and in Oregon State's case, both games look particularly important given how weak their non-conference schedule was.
Speaking of California and Stanford, they earned a Sunday split with the Mountain schools. The Golden Bears (12-3, 2-0) dominated No. 21 Utah (11-4, 0-2), 71-58, thanks in no small part to Ivan Rabb's 19-point, 10-rebound performance. The Utes are in a bit of trouble, especially since they have to travel to Boulder on Friday night. The Buffaloes (12-3, 1-1) will enter that game on a Rocky Mountain high, thanks to their narrow 56-55 victory at Stanford (8-5, 1-1). Josh Scott scored 14 and grabbed 14 boards, but none of those points were as important as the game-winning layup he got to go with 41 seconds left.
Illinois (8-7, 0-2) tried, landing a couple inexplicable threes in the final minute in Columbus, but fell short against resurgent Ohio State (10-5, 2-0), 75-73. Marc Loving led the Buckeyes with 27 points, a career-high. That performance led his head coach, Thad Matta, to go all annoying Stanford guy during his postgame interview on BTN.
Wake Forest (9-4, 0-1) might be a year or two away from ACC and NCAA contention, but the Demon Deacons will pull off an upset or two before the middle of March. That's my suspicion after Danny Manning's squad gave 18th-ranked Louisville (12-2, 1-0) a fight in what turned into a 65-57 home win for the Cardinals. Donovan Mitchell led the hosts with 18, though Chinanu Onuaku's 12-point, 15-board performance also deserves a mention. Devin Thomas and Bryant Crawford had 14 apiece for the Deacs.
George Washington (12-2, 1-0) got a game from resurgent Fordham (9-3, 0-1), but the Colonials prevailed 69-63 at Foggy Bottom. In Philadelphia, UMass (8-5, 1-0) defeated La Salle (4-7, 0-1), 74-67, in a matchup of recent NCAA qualifiers that are unlikely to return this season.
UAB (11-3, 1-0) took down Middle Tennessee (8-5, 0-1), 78-67, in an early matchup of C-USA contenders at Bartow Arena. However, it will be 2-0 UTEP (10-5) representing the league in the first real bracket of the season tomorrow. The Miners defeated North Texas (6-9, 1-1), 84-75.
Wichita State (8-5, 2-0) and Illinois State (8-7, 2-0) joined Evansville and Southern Illinois at the top of the Missouri Valley with 2-0 league records with respective wins over Bradley (2-13, 0-2) and Drake (5-9, 0-2).
In the Summit League, South Dakota State (13-3, 2-0) held off Western Illinois (7-6, 0-2), 63-59, while North Dakota State (11-4, 1-0) opened its league account with a 75-49 win over Denver Pioneers (8-7, 0-2). Omaha (10-6, 2-0) is tied with the Jackrabbits for the league lead, however, after their 76-71 home win over IUPUI (5-12, 1-1). Oral Roberts (8-8, 0-2), however, dropped a home game to South Dakota (9-7, 1-1), 94-84. That's the sixth loss in a row for the Golden Eagles.