Two big conference boosts on Friday: Colorado beat 16th-ranked Baylor 60-58 and UCLA won its battle to get Shabazz Muhammad eligible.
Let’s start with the game. Colorado shot 4-for-19 at the free-throw line and won. Read that again. The Buffs gave away 15 points and beat the 16th-ranked team in the country on a neutral floor in South Carolina. Askia Booker scored 19 for Colorado. Andre Roberson scored seven and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“It’s feels great. It was a good team victory,” Roberson told the Daily Camera. “A lot of guys coming into this game had last year’s seniors on our shoulders, and we decided to do it for them. We came out with the win.”
It’s a big win for the Buffs. Coach Tad Boyle told me he hoped Pac-12 teams learned last year that Colorado is about defense and rebounding. The conference is dutifully aware. As is Baylor now. The Bears shot 32.4 percent from the field Friday night and came in averaging 87 points in their first three games. Colorado held them to 58 points.
> UCLA and the conference received big news when the NCAA cleared would-be star freshman Shabazz Muhammad. He can play as soon as Monday against Georgetown (welcome to college basketball, kid).
“I am relieved that this long, arduous process has come to an end,” UCLA Coach Ben Howland said in a statement. “So many people worked very hard on this case and I am eternally grateful to them as well as the Bruin family, who stood by us throughout. I am pleased that Shabazz will be able to begin his collegiate career.”
From the LA Times: The NCAA said that UCLA acknowledged amateurism violations occurred and asked the NCAA on Friday to reinstate Muhammad with conditions. The school required Muhammad to sit 10% of the season (three games) and to repay about $1,600 in impermissible benefits, the approximate cost of the three unofficial trips paid for by Lincoln.
Muhammad will be a nice addition to the conference. Teams that are likely to end up in the middle of the pack or just above it — like Oregon and perhaps Washington — can only benefit if the upper tier of UCLA and Arizona put together the high-end seasons expected.
But, UCLA isn’t just Muhammad. Fellow freshman Kyle Anderson has been outstanding early. He’s 6-9 with excellent floor vision and plays at a pace that belies his age.
> Oregon State’s Devon Collier showed that he could be one of the better players in the conference by racking up career-bests in scoring, 27 points, and rebounding, 14, in Oregon State’s 66-58 win over Purdue yesterday. But, Oregon State center Angus Brandt went down during the game with a non-contact injury. Oregon State told the TNT he has an injured right knee and will be assessed by doctors Sunday or Monday after flying back to Corvallis on Saturday. The fear is his injury could be one that ends his season.
> Oregon handled Vanderbilt 74-48 behind 22 points from E.J. Singler. UCLA getting Muhammad cleared wasn’t the only important addition to the conference Friday. Oregon big man Arsalan Kazemi was also cleared and made his Oregon debut and had five points and seven boards in 21 minutes. Kazemi was very productive in three years at Rice, averaging a double-double the last two seasons.
> Now, for the not-so-good: Washington State lost 58-56 in overtime to Pepperdine. Yikes.
“Their quickness bothered us, at times,” coach Ken Bone told the Spokesman-Review. “We were not able to attack and be successful inside. Every time we tried to put the ball on the floor, we came up empty-handed.”
Brock Motum, who was sick, was just 4-for-13 from the field. This is the fear for WSU. If Motum can’t efficiently score 20 points, who can step up? Royce Woolridge and DaVonte Lacy were a combined 6-for-17 and had seven turnovers. Mike Ladd was a productive 4-for-8.