Local college basketball weekly roundup

The two most impressive college basketball teams in Southern California don’t even come out of the Los Angeles area. No. 25 San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara had the best weeks while UCLA fell out of the rankings and Long Beach State continued to struggle with a brutal non-conference schedule. Here’s what happened last week in college basketball around the area.

Gauchos break through

UC Santa Barbara took UCLA, then-ranked No. 16, down to the wire at Pauley Pavilion last Tuesday before going up to the Bay Area and getting that marquee win against a power conference team. The Gauchos topped California 72-65 Friday night at the Thunderdome. Now 4-3 with another big win at UNLV earlier in the season, UCSB is poised to return to prominence in the Big West.

Alan Williams is finally emerging as the dominant force in the post that the Gauchos need. The junior has been marked in the conference for the last two seasons but spent much of last on the bench dealing with foot injuries. One of the top rebounders in the country, Williams has been unstoppable for the Gauchos, averaging 11 rebounds per game to go along with 26.8 points. But he has assistance: The Gauchos spread the ball out, as is evidenced by their 18.3 assists per game — good enough for eighth in Division I.

This week: At San Diego, Sunday, Dec. 15.

UCLA falls to Mizzou

The Gauchos were undone by turnovers in the late minutes against UCLA last week. Had the Bruins not had that help, the outcome of their 89-76 win might have been much different. With that win, head coach Steve Alford became the first head coach in the storied history of the Bruins’ program to start a season 8-0, but the Bruins promptly dropped the next game at Missouri.

The Tigers were the only real challenging team from a big conference on the Bruins’ exceptionally light non-conference schedule. There were two takeaways from that game, with the first being an unfortunate altercation between the Bruins and the Tigers.

The second? Zach LaVine is the most explosive athlete on the team — his windmill dunk is still getting airtime.

This week: Hosting Prarie View A&M, Saturday, Dec. 14

The Beach shows signs of life – sort of

Followers of this program know that Dan Monson loves to over-schedule. It’s a point of pride and a point of emphasis — whether the 49ers are ready or not, they will play anyone anywhere.

And this season, they aren’t ready.

After a loss at home to Creighton last Tuesday, the 49ers headed back out on the road to travel to North Carolina State. It was easily one of the best performances the 1-9 49ers have had all season. While the two regulars — point guard Mike Caffey and center Dan Jennings — led the team as they typically do, the role players finally stepped up to complement their production.

David Samuels had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds and hit one of The Beach’s two 3-pointers — and there lies the problem. The dismal shooting of the 49ers needs to improve before Big West play begins next month.

This Week: Off

USC finally controversy-free

We’re talking strictly basketball here.

The Trojans finally had a week in which there were no tampering accusations, coaches in fisticuffs or players ruled ineligible. While the controversy swarmed around the football program, the Trojans stayed under the radar for a 78-62 win at home over Boston College. It was hardly an impressive win and Boston College is not having a good year, but any win is a win to build off of in what is proving to be a tumultuous first season for new head coach Andy Enfield.

This week: Hosting Cal State Bakersfield, Sunday, Dec. 15.

What to watch for this week

This is a light week with most schools entering into final exams, but the Trojans are hoping that guard J.T. Terrell will have a couple exceptional exams and will become eligible again following the conclusion of the semester on Dec. 18. It’s unlikely that USC will have Terrell back to face Long Beach State on FOX Sports Prime Ticket the following day, but he could be back by the time Pac-12 play starts.