Day 2 Recap Of The 2012 Pac-12 Basketball Tournament: A Free Throw Travesty

Dime will be in the building all week for the 2012 Pac-12 basketball tournament to bring you updates on how the league is screwing with the NCAA selection committee’s collective head and the awesome Staples Center buffets.

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Day 2 of the Pac-12 Tournament just had to be better than Day 1 as far as quality was concerned. I knew this from the onset, but I didn’t know how crazy of a day it’d become. Look, this is a conference where some silly people think the regular season winner could potentially miss the Big Dance.

“Well, those ‘some people’, that’s what gets us,” said Cal coach Mike Montgomery. “It starts from the get-go, and ‘some people’ become the majority somehow because they keep talking about it.”

Those some people might be right, though. The Oregon State Beavers became the first No. 9 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in tournament history. That No. 1 seed was the Washington Huskies, and boy did it screw everything up regarding NCAA Tournament possibilities. So did No. 3 seed Oregon’s slim loss to No. 6 seed Colorado. For the sake of the Pac-12 tourney, those swings make every game from here on out even more important. And for the rest of the week, that’s good news for fans. Beyond that it’s a wonder who, if anyone, will earn at-large selections.

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Oregon State (9) 86, Washington 84 (1)
Arizona (4) 66, UCLA (5) 58
Cal (2) 77, Stanford (7) 71
Colorado (6) 63, Oregon (3) 62

Best of the day
Head coach Craig Robinson is showing he has a knack for nabbing under-the-radar recruits who have room to develop into specialists. Sophomore Ahmad Starks, while listed as 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, is a firecracker. Freshman Eric Moreland, at 6-foot-10 and 215 pounds, is built like Kevin Durant and controls the paint with length and athleticism. 280-pound big man Joe Burton plays like a guard to the point where you’re thinking he’s a Big Baby Davis clone.

The Beavers are fairly young, and if 18-point scorer Jared Cunningham returns for his senior season, expect them to make some noise next season. They’re already making a lot in this season. Yesterday, they blew a big lead, didn’t panic and executed down the stretch. Same thing happened Thursday.

“When you’re turning a culture around like we do, you’re very confident coming from behind,” Robinson said.

The Beavers had a 15-point lead less than a minute into the second half, but Washington charged back, owning the lead from the 12-minute mark until 31 seconds remained. But those 31 seconds made all the difference, as OSU pulled off the historic upset. Defeating UW not only keeps the Beavs in contention for an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament, but it puts the Huskies’ own chances in question despite winning the Pac-12 regular season.

Worst of the day
Back to that 31-second mark for a second. From then until the 6-second mark, there were a total of four fouls. With OSU leading by only one at 84-83, Cunningham and Washington’s Tony Wroten Jr. missed seven combined free throws, all in a row. I’ve never heard more frequent gasps of frustration from a crowd. Finally, Cunningham nailed two free throws with six seconds remaining that helped the Beavers claim their slim victory.

Faces in the crowd
Former UCLA Bruin Reggie Miller took in the early Thursday games on media row. I was kind of hoping he and Gary Payton, who returned to watch his Beavers, would play a game of one-on-one during halftime. How animated would their back-and-forth smack talk be? I mean, these are the two greats.

Actor and comedian Gary Shandling also made an appearance, and The Classical’s Eric Freeman shot this awkward video of Arizona’s mascot, Wilbur the Wildcat, bugging the poor guy.

UCLA’s 6-foot-10, 310-pound center Joshua Smith takes a lot of flak for being out of shape. After fouling out in less than 10 minutes of playing time, one of my college friends who’s covering the tourney for the Arizona student newspaper tweeted this to me: “Hopefully we get to the buffet before Josh Smith …” When we went to grub around 7:00 (that’s like normal dinner time, right?) the buffet treys were already gone. And considering I went off about the buffet in my Day 1 post, you know I wasn’t too happy about this development.

Eyes and ears
After Washington’s loss to Oregon State, some media member came across as being either really stupid or inexperienced, asking UW coach Lorenzo Romar if it was a positive that they lost in their first game in order to rest up for the NCAA Tournament. Considering they were on the bubble in Joe Lunardi‘s bracket BEFORE the loss, I think the answer is “no.” To Romar’s credit, he pointed out this fact without coming across as demeaning or annoyed, something I can’t say everyone would do immediately after a killer loss.

Up next:
Oregon State vs. Arizona, 6 p.m. PST
Colorado vs. Cal, 8:30 p.m. PST

What team(s) from this conference should get in?

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