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On a Big Night For Pac-10 Hoops, 3 Teams Prove the Critics Right

What could have potentially been a night when the Pac-10 made a statement against some very good opponents, every team fell flat on their face.

Cal traveled to undefeated New Mexico and lost 86-78. The Bears are clearly lost without Harper Kamp and Theo Robertson. They're two of the team's best players and critical to their success, yet there's no guarantee that either one is going to be able to contribute any time soon. Without 2 starters, the Bears simply don't have much depth at all, and there's only so much that Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher can do. Jamal Boykin had a big game with 21 points and 13 rebounds, but without Kamp the Lobos out rebounded Cal handily, and beat them at the line. Cal falls to 4-3 and while it's no death sentence (remember, the Huskies started last year 2-3 and won the conference), it's not exactly the way that a preseason top-15 team expects to come out of the gates.

Arizona played a very good UNLV team (ranked 21st in the nation) close but ultimately fell in double overtime. Both teams shot very poorly (under 40%), but UNLV was slightly better. Arizona continues to play good teams tough, but cannot put them away. The main reason for the loss this time was that Nic Wise couldn't make anything (3/15, 1/9 from 3), though he was superb from the free throw line (12/12). When he shoots this poorly it's going to be hard for them to beat anybody, no matter how good some of his teammates play (Derrick Williams scored 28).

WSU choked away a game that they should have won at Gonzaga 74-69. If you watched the UW/Montana game, the parallels in this game were astounding. Gonzaga was coming off of a bit of a layoff and came out sluggish. They couldn't make anything in the first half and their offense was off kilter. WSU played a 2/3 zone which stymied the Zags at times. The Zags used some friendly officiating and a home court advantage to roar back late in the second half. It was more or less the same game. Klay Thompson came crashing back down to earth in a big way. He buckled under the pressure of carrying his team and hit just 3/7 free throws (he shot 90% last year), many of his misses coming at needed times in the second half. He also shot just 6/20 from the floor and 0/4 from 3. It was a little bit of an off night for him, but this was more like the defenses he's going to be seeing in Pac-10 play, where teams have the size and athleticism to match up with him.

These were games that were critical in increasing the profile of the conference, and it was a wasted opportunity. This is really going to hurt the Huskies down the stretch in terms of seeding. With the non-conference schedule pretty weak and the conference perhaps being even worse than many predicted, it's going to be hard for the Huskies to earn a good seed come March.