SoCal hoops roundup: Wild week on the court

The Bruins went 2-0 against Stanford and Cal, but it wasn't enough to get UCLA back into the rankings.

The Big West Conference produced the most exciting, yet chaotic outcomes last week. Only few games went as planned and the conference standings as of Monday are somewhat unexpected.

Elsewhere, UCLA continued its home dominance at Pauley Pavilion and USC was left broken-hearted by the Cardinal. Here’s a recap of last week’s college basketball action.

UCLA handles the Bay Area

The Bruins went 2-0 against Stanford and Cal, handling the Cardinal easily and holding off a furious Cal rally. It wasn’t quite enough to get UCLA back into the rankings — UCLA is still only receiving minimal votes in all major polls — but it did get the team into a tie for second place in the Pac-12.

Tony Parker had his breakout game last Thursday against Stanford, scoring 22 points with seven rebound and three steals. However, he couldn’t quite follow it up, playing only seven minutes and picking up four fouls later in the week against California, showing that the sophomore reserve center is still growing as a player.

"He’s really going through his freshman year because he didn’t get a lot of playing time last year," said head coach Steve Alford. "When you do the things you did last game, you become locker room material. It’s a maturity process, young players — it takes some time..

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"I just thought, whether he wasn’t ready, or didn’t understand the level of plays you did well, you’ve got to continue to do well at a high level because everybody you’ve out of the locker room has prepared for you differently after you’ve proved that you can do some things."

Tark’s Choice

People tend to forget that Jerry Tarkanian was once the coach of Long Beach State in the late 1960s through the early 1970s, but Tark’ was so successful that he forged a budding rivalry with John Wooden and UCLA at the time. He then went to UNLV where he saw the most success with the Runnin’ Rebels.

These days, his health is not great, but that didn’t stop him from visiting his former team Saturday night in Long Beach. But it was an intriguing matchup for the former coach, as the 49ers faced Cal State Northridge, led by his former player and close friend, Reggie Theus.

Several former 49ers joined Tarkanian at the Walter Pyramid as Long Beach topped the Matadors but he was all Long Beach Saturday night, as he was honored at halftime for his groundbreaking coaching style and his success as a 49er.

Chaos in the Big West

Long Beach State was the favorite in Saturday night’s contest against Cal State Northridge and The Beach was the only favorite that actually won.

The conference’s top players in UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly all lost Saturday night in surprising fashion.

The Anteaters’ loss to Hawaii was the least shocking of the losses. The two highest scoring teams in the conference engaged in a shootout with the Rainbow Warriors getting the 90-86 edge.

But cellar-dwellers Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside defeating UCSB and Poly were two outcomes few saw coming.

The Gauchos, a potential Bracket Buster come March, were dealt a dagger with 32 seconds left at Fullerton’s Titan Gym when Michael Williams drained a game-winning three on the wing. UC Riverside went on a 10-0 run against the Mustangs in the final three minutes to win just their seventh game of the season and their second in the Big West.

USC earns first Pac-12 win

The Trojans, be it tough-luck losses or or just plain tough losses, have had a difficult time figuring out how to win in the Pac-12 until last week when they downed Cal 77-69. Behind Nikola Jovanovic’s 23 points, the Trojans and first-year head coach Andy Enfield snapped an 0-5 streak by using their two bigs to control the boards against the Golden Bears.

But Sunday night wasn’t the same story. The Trojans engaged in a fierce battle with the Cardinal, who was battling to stay in the middle of the conference standings. The Trojans, now 1-6 in the Pac-12 and 10-10 overall, couldn’t contain the Pac-12’s leading scorer in Chasson Randle as he scored seven points in overtime to lead the Cardinal to victory.