The Morning After Recap: Friday, December 16

... the safe, smart AM read for college basketball fans

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It has almost become the consensus around college basketball: For the absolute worst power conference in America, look to the Pac-12. Don't even try to act surprised. With a league-wide laundry list of bad losses to sub-par opponents standing out like a sore thumb, it's hard not to pile on the Pac-12 for blundering all those non-conference games.

But if there's one good thing about a completely underwhelming league, it's that anybody can rise up and compete for the crown at any given time. And right now, one of the teams that looks poised to make that move is Oregon State.

The Beavers are off to a very impressive start for a program that was headed in the wrong direction the last two seasons, and a key overtime win against Texas is a very nice way to highlight a resume before Christmas. Aside from a two-point loss to Vanderbilt at the Legends Classic and a 14-point gaffe against the Idaho Potatoes Vandals, Craig Robinson's team has performed better than most were expecting. His nationally-ranked scoring offense has been the real difference, and OSU is currently averaging more than ten points more per game than a year ago.

Then again, the true test will come in league play, where Robinson has gone 13-23 over the last two seasons. Stanford, Washington and Cal are the obvious frontrunners going forward, but none of the three have more than a minor edge over Oregon State in the personnel department. With headline star Jared Cunningham continuously making things happen in transition, the Beavers are, at the very least, going to be a dangerous out every single night. And if the league does indeed cannibalize itself like many are predicting, the thought of a middle-tier school like OSU at the top of the heap isn't that far-fetched.

The Local Guys

* All these blowout wins are starting to get Missouri's youngsters like Kadeem Green some serious time (Columbian Missourian)
* Steve Prohm on the undefeated exposure: "We’ve gotten a lot of attention lately, and that’s great, that’s a big positive for our program, but we wanted to make sure there were no let downs tonight." (Murray Ledger & Times)
* Fresh off a 10-day break, Northwestern got 20-6-5 from John Shurna to hit 8-1 (Chicago Tribune)

The Blogosphere

* Gonzaga overcame 17 turnovers to outlast big-shot artist Damen Bell-Holter and Oral Roberts (The Slipper Still Fits)
* Bo Ryan's defense held an opponent under 40 points for the fourth time this season (Bucky's 5th Quarter)
* At 8-2, with Pac-12 opponents as the only threats on the schedule, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on Oregon State (Building The Dam)

Who Won It Best

Gonzaga - While it's true that the Zags aren't exactly loaded with players like we've grown accustomed to seeing up in Spokane, beating a tournament-caliber Oral Roberts squad was more than just another ho-hum non-conference victory. The vast amount of confidence gained from this performance alone, especially after suffering back-to-back losses to Big Ten schools, will go a long way when the Bulldogs play host to Arizona and Butler over the next five days.

Who Lost it Worst

SMU - This soon-to-be Big East member looks like a real catch! The Mustangs fell in embarrassing fashion to Jackson State on Thursday, the same Jackson State team that previously clung to a lone win against Condordia College, a school in Alabama with 719 students.

MVP

Zeke Marshall-Akron - Big Zeke remains an enigma, but when he's on, he's on. Last night was a prime example, as Marshall recorded 21 points, seven blocks and six rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Already Akron's all-time leader in blocked shots, Zeke can be defensive force when he manages to avoid foul trouble.

By The Numbers

26 -Combined 3-pointers made by Northwestern (13 of 29) and Northwestern State (13 of 28) in a pair of wins for the purple brothers.

It Was Tweeted

Dec16tweet_medium

This Really Happened

Princeton's wild buzzer-beater from Wednesday


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