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WHAT WE'VE LEARNED - WCC BASKETBALL - NON-CONFERENCE WEEK ONE
By John Crumpacker, WCC Columnist | @CrumpackerOnWCC
After the opening week of the season there is no reason to believe Gonzaga and BYU will not be battling it out for the WCC tournament championship on March 10 in Las Vegas.
How's that for getting ahead of things by, oh, four months?
Gonzaga and BYU both won big in their openers and each had five players in double figures as the Zags ripped poor Sacramento State 104-58 while the Cougars out-pointed Long Beach State 95-90. And then Gonzaga handily defeated SMU and Larry Brown in Spokane on Monday night to confirm its status as a national power.
What we learned from the first week of games
- Gonzaga is going get the most out of its scholarship to 6-foot-10 Kyle Wiltjer, the Kentucky transfer. In only 20 minutes in the opener he had 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist while all-star guard Kevin Pangos added 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Pangos, by the way, is the only active Division I player to exceed 1,300 points, 300 assists and 200 three-point shots in his career. That's by way of STATS, which is to the metrics-driven what a swimming pool filled with $100 bills is to the greedy.
- Should Jared Brownridge falter for any reason, his Santa Clara backcourt mate, Brandon Clark, will be there to pick up the slack. In the Broncos' opener against Cal State Fullerton, Brownridge was in foul trouble much of the game and finished with just nine points in 18 minutes. It hardly mattered. Clark erupted for a career-high 31 points and followed up with 21 more the next night against San Diego Christian.
- Portland might have the opportunity to pile up some wins before conference season begins Dec. 27. Coach Eric Reveno's Pilots are off to a 2-0 start in beating Concordia and San Jose State. After returning home from the Music City Challenge (vs. Murray State, Drake and Valparaiso), Portland has Portland State (Dec. 3) and Oregon State (Dec. 6) at home, Sacramento State (Dec. 14) in the California capitol and UNLV (Dec. 17) in Las Vegas and Montana State (Dec. 20) and Lewis & Clark (Dec. 22) at home.
- Saint Mary's loves the nightlife. Boy, do the men from Moraga love the nightlife. The Gaels love to boogie when the hour is late. In six of the last seven seasons Saint Mary's has participated in ESPN's Tip-off Marathon at either 11 p.m. or midnight and its record is a sterling 6-0 with defeats of Fresno State, San Diego State, St. Johns, Northern Iowa, Akron and, Monday night at McKeon Pavilion, New Mexico State.
- In a game that started at 12:05 a.m. on Tuesday and ended at 2:29 a.m., the Gaels knocked off the Aggies 83-71 as Stanford transfer Aaron Bright had 21 points, center Brad Waldow and reserve forward Garrett Jackson each had 16 and guard Kerry Carter had 12 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals before fouling out.
- "Knock on wood, I'll take it," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said while he loosened his tie at a quarter to three in the morning. "Once you get here for the game, it doesn't make any difference (what time it is). Our student crowd was awesome tonight. They really helped us. That's a heck of a college basketball game. New Mexico State is an NCAA tournament team the last three years. It's a really good win for us.''
Quote of the week
"I get to sleep in.''
Saint Mary's guard Kerry Carter, talking about an 11:30 a.m. Tuesday class in International Economics while wrapping up a victory over New Mexico State that finished at 2:29 a.m.
Some of the better WCC games this week are Santa Clara at Utah State, Pepperdine at San Jose State and St. Joseph's at Gonzaga, all on Wednesday, Loyola Marymount at Arizona State and Denver at Saint Mary's on Thursday and Pacific at Washington and UC Irvine at Saint Mary's on Sunday.
Tweet of the Week
#UnitedWeZag Gonzaga's women's basketball returns to Associated Press Top 25 rankings, at No. 24.
Stat Line of the Week
Carter, Saint Mary's 6-foot-2 senior guard, opened the season in unusual fashion. In scoring 25 points as the Gaels dispatched Cal State Los Angeles 77-67, Carter attempted no shots inside the 3-point arc. Instead, he stepped behind the 19-foot, 9-inch line and hit 7 of 13 shots to go with 4-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.
"I've never had a game like that,'' Carter said.
That wasn't all he did, however. Carter also found time to collect 12 rebounds, dish off two assists along with a block and a steal.
Then there's Kevin Bailey of Portland. In an 87-59 victory over Concordia, the 6-5 guard hit all eight of his shots inside the 3-point line while sinking 1 of 3 attempts beyond it. He finished with 22 points.
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Because its 2014-15 uniforms from Adidas did not arrive in time for Friday's opener against Cal State Fullerton, Santa Clara wore its road black uniforms in an 89-72 win by the Broncos. The new unis were expected in time for Santa Clara's road game at Utah State on Tuesday. ... Don't get too excited about Pepperdine being named host of the 2018 NCAA West Regional tournament because the games will actually be played at the Staples Center in L.A. rather than on campus in Malibu. ... Pepperdine's Stacy Davis was a busy man as he led the Waves to an 89-74 victory over Fresno State. The 6-6 forward had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and went 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Proving he's not perfect, Davis also had five turnovers.