As the Wildcats have done numerous times this year, they fell behind in the first half...by a lot. In this case it was 19 points. Like they have also done time and time again, they came back with a much better effort in the second half. But against Oregon, a team with five good shooters, the matador defense Arizona came to play with was not enough for a victory.
Jordan Hill, who had a solid game with 12 points and seven rebounds, literally played matador defense. And I'm not talking about Cal State Northridge Matador defense, which is actually pretty good. I'm talking about having three fouls for 18 minutes of the second half defense when you say Ole and let the Oregon guards drive by for easy layups.
Kevin O'Neill had to leave him out there because the Wildcats have no other big man. Where was Kirk Walters?
(2:00:26 PM): hes the only person in the history of the planet to suffer from mono for a year and a half
(2:01:02 PM): hes terrible i wouldnt want him in anyway
Aside from the easy baskets in the paint, Oregon also shot 45% from 3-point range, and like always when a team shoots well from beyond the arc, many of the 3s were wide open looks.
So the bottom line is this: With Bayless, the Wildcats are a top 3-4 Pac-10 team. Without Bayless, they are a 6-7 Pac-10 team.
Bad news for the Chase Budinger stay one more year fan club: Budinger was aggressive all game, taking the ball to the basket and looking like his usual deadly self from three. He scored 30 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and took 22 shots. He did not hesitate. I wonder sometimes why it takes coaches to tell him to be more aggressive over and over again. He's arguably the best shooter in the country and he defers to his teammates too often. It's like this sense of insecurity that he has and needs to shed.
Also, the most entertaining part of this game was in the first 10 minutes of the first half when Budinger and Oregon's Bryce Taylor put on a shooting display.
With 15:25 left in the first half, Budinger made a jumper. Next possession, he came down and hit another jumper. Following possession, Taylor knocks down a 3. Two possessions later, Budinger another jumper. Then Taylor another 3. Then Budinger hits a 3, and finally Taylor answers with a 3. It was 3 minutes of an old-fasioned shootout. It was fun to watch.
Budinger 9 points in 2:16, Taylor 9 points in 1:39.
Up next: vs. ASU Wednesday 6:30 p.m. PST FSNAZ
Lakers send Sixers to the NBDL
Speaking of not playing an defense. The Philadelphia 76ers didn't even pretend to play on the other end of the floor in the Lakers 124-93 win. The Lakers shot an absurd 66% while being over 70% for much of the game until the 2nd and 3rd stringers (Coby Karl) played the fourth quarter. That is the best shooting percentage in a game for the Lakers since 1984.
I keep telling Phil to play Ronny Turiaf more. Turiaf got his first start since November 30, and produced 15 points, 4 rebounds, and tied a career high with 5 blocks. His energy completely depleted any chance the Sixers had of even competing with the Lakers, who play five of their next six games against losing teams.
Evan Javaris Crittenton, nicknamed the black Steve Nash, by one of Buller's Rising Stars kids, got into the action. He scored a career high 19 points.
The most ridiculous moment of the night came when James Loney did an in game interview with Joel Myers and Stu Lantz. Either Loney is really, really soft spoken, or he was high as a kite. He must have said a total of 15 words in like 10 questions. The highlight was of course when he was asked to describe th adjustment between Houston (his hometown) and LA.
" Out here people try to get their hustle on," he said.
As always, an updated Lakers +/- (through 31 games) Lakers: 20-11, 6th in West
Up Next: vs. Indiana Pacers Sunday 6:30 p.m. PST FSN
Around the Pac-10 from Thursday
ASU beat Oregon 62-54.
ASU coach Herb Sendek is taking this team places in his second year at the helm. James Harden, a McDonald's All American, is an under the radar freshman despite the billing. Don't forget this is the same team that lost about 10 games by three points or less last year. They were close but missing a head coach, and now that they replaced the always confused Rob Evans, the Sun Devils have a chance at making the NCAA tournament and have earned official sleeper status.
OJ Mayo scored a career high 34 points but USC lost at California 92-82 as the Golden Bears make 11 3s.
Speaking of underrated, Ryan Anderson might be the most overlooked superstar in the country. He's 13th in the nation in scoring and leading the Pac-10 at 22.2 points per game in addition to his 9.4 rebounds per game, good for fifth in the conference. He's also shooting 54% from the field to boot.
Food for thought: I know Kevin Durant is head and shoulders above Adam Morrison as a basketball player. But I thought I'd just point out that aside from points per game, they weren't all that far off in their rookie years. The biggest difference is in John Hollinger's PER.
Durant vs. Morrison
Durant 41% field goals
Durant 31% 3-pointers
Durant 4 rebounds per game
Durant 2 assists per game
Durant PER 15.67
Check it out: My Daily News article on Simi Valley basketball dominating Moorpark.