NCAA Basketball West: A Look at the Top 25, San Diego St. Goes Down, Oregon Looks for Win #6

In this week’s AP Top 25, #7 Arizona fell off the undefeated wagon last Thursday with a 70-66 loss against Oregon and dropped from #4. But it still tops teams from the west. Fortunately the Wildcats quickly put their loss behind them and defeated Oregon State, 80-70 two days later. Next up, is Saturday’s game against in-state foe Arizona State.

Arizona is the top contender for the Pac-12 title at 1 to 1.

Rounding out the Top 25, Gonzaga sits at #8, #15 San Diego State, #19 New Mexico, #21 Oregon and #24 UCLA.

On Wednesday in the Mountain West conference, UNLV (15-3, 2-1) upset San Diego State (14-3, 2-1), 82 to 75. The team entered the game looking to avenge last week’s loss and its fall from the Top 25.

With San Diego State’s loss, New Mexico is the only undefeated Mountain West team at 3-0 but are 100 to 1 to win the Big Dance.

And on Thursday, Oregon (14-2, 3-0) will look for the win to remain the Top 25 while USC (7-10, 2-2) will play under an interim coach.

UNLV defeats San Diego State 82-75

UNLV Guard Anthony Marshall

On Wednesday, the Runnin Rebels brought their grit, height and at the end, better play to defeat the Aztecs.

It also saw second-high scoring from Anthony Marshall (20 points) and aggressive rebounding and scoring by Justin Hawkins and Khem Birch in the game’s last 1:18 to assist for the win.

Bryce Dejean-Jones added 14 points and Birch contributed a total of 12 points.

With the loss, it was the first time that San Diego State had allowed one on its home court since Feb. 15, 2012 against New Mexico.

So what happened? UNLV was the better team on Wednesday. It entered halftime leading 48-42 and returned to take a 10-point lead. The Aztecs went on a 12-0 run to make it 64-63. A tied game ensued at 3:43 but the Runnin Rebels took back the lead and kept it for the remainder of the game.

Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said via ESPN, “We got beat tonight by a really, really good basketball team. They had the ability to change shots when you think you’re going to get one at the rim. They came over to either block or come over so hard that we rushed a couple of them that looked like they were going to go in. You never like to lose. But we need to say that the fight we had and the mental play we had in the second half, is how you have to play.”

#21 Oregon vs. USC

Oregon Guard Damyean Dotson

The Ducks will take the floor on Thursday, trying to keep their conference record perfect. It’s also been five years since they’ve been in the Top 25 and they’d like it to continue.

The team has a five-game win streak with its biggest victory over then #4 Arizona last week.

Confidence and expectations are rising for the Ducks but in their 68-65 win over Arizona State last week, they shot less than their opponent but were strong in free throws.

One of the team’s strength is balance and they have five players with 10.1 points per game average but they have done more as six players have seen 16-point games.

Tony Woods, Carlos Emory and freshman Damyean Dotson, the team’s leading scorer with an 11.9 point average,  have seen 14 points in a game.

As for USC, it’s been a messy week with the firing of its coach Kevin O’Neill. Last Saturday, the team snapped a 14-game losing steak but it was too little, too late. In his more than three seasons, he was 48-65 and last season, the team endured a school record for the most losses at 6-26.

Assistant Bob Cantu has taken over in the interim.

The team’s leading scorer is Eric Wise with 11.9 average points per game.

Oregon has won five straight in this match up and on Thursday it will be No. 6 (69.9% give them the win).

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