SoCal college hoops roundup
Once again, San Diego State highlighted the week that week that was Southern California college hoops. The Aztecs went to one of the most hostile places to play college basketball in Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse and they toppled a powerhouse.
It’s the Aztecs that are now looking like the powerhouse team in the area.
The traditional area powerhouse, UCLA, continued its reign over the city while USC continued to search for answers. Elsewhere in Southland, the Big West dealt with weather issues foreign to most area athletes.
Here are the highlights and lowlights from the last week.
SDSU the new "It" program?
It’s a possibility.
Kansas doesn’t lose at Allen Fieldhouse. It’s the birthplace of basketball, a special place to watch a game but a hostile place to play one if you aren’t wearing crimson and blue.
But San Diego State beat the Jayhawks on their own floor, something only few others have managed to do.
The 13th-ranked Aztecs are a complete team. Xavier Thames scored 16 points but KU head coach Bill Self said he controlled the game. Their length bothered the Jayhawks and their aggressive rebounding proved key in the late minutes.
"They’re definitely one of the premiere teams we’ve played this year," said Kansas head coach Bill Self. "Regardless of how well we played, this is still a hard place to win and they made us play poorly."
— MW Men's Basketball (@MW_MHoops) January 6, 2014
Bruins run LA
And they run fast.
Credit head coach Steve Alford, heâs developed an offense that is one of the fastest in the nation. The Bruins are ranked 18th in adjusted tempo efficiency and they sped past rival USC for their first Pac-12 win in a 34-point blowout, Sunday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.
"Coach says not to be robots out there, he just wants us to play," said guard Kyle Anderson, who matched his career-high with 23 points in the Crosstown Showdown. "It’s a lot of fun. We have a great assist-to-turnover ratio so guys are making better passes."
Kyle Anderson leads the Pac-12 in assists (6.6 apg) & ranks fourth in rebounds (8.9 rpg) … is also 14th in scoring (15.1 ppg).
— UCLA Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 7, 2014
The Bruins are distributing the ball well — their assist-to-turnover ratio is the fourth-best in Division I — and it’s credited to Alford’s open, motion offense. UCLA plays fast, they distribute well, they play to their strengths in athleticism and the transition game and the players have taken to it.
In short, the offense is everything USC’s Andy Enfield wants his offense to be.
Before the season, Enfield promised that his offense would be fast, furious and flashy. The Trojans aren’t there just yet.
The Trojans didn’t play smart. They continue to look more comfortable in their half court sets and turned the ball over 17 times. Junior Byron Wesley has beat the Bruins only once in his career but this loss was particularly frustrating.
"We felt coming in that we would need to play a really good game," Wesley said. "We were just not able to get the job done."
Around the Big West
Cal State Northridge is back in sunny So Cal but took quite the journey to get back. What began as a two-game swing in Texas and South Dakota became a 10-day, six-city journey through a snowstorm that gripped much of the country.
The idea was thrown out to actually bus the team home from Sioux Falls, S.D., or possibly have them take Amtrak back to the West Coast.
Matadors’ sports information director Bob Vasquez made sure to commemorate the trip with several pictures of the team. The first few show them smiling, but as the trip wore on and the temperature fell below zero the photos show fewer and fewer with smiles. Only one player is smiling in the final picture in the Denver airport, the team’s final destination before heading home.
Long Beach State was also stranded in St. Louis after playing Mizzou and Cal Poly was stuck in Philadelphia after playing at Delaware.
What to watch for this week
Big West play kicks off this week and the most enticing match up will take place Thursday night in Long Beach when the 49ers face UC Irvine in the Black and Blue rivalry. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Prime Ticket at 8 p.m.