PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Georgetown center Joshua Smith, a former Kentwood High School of Kent star, had a harsh assessment of his four-rebound effort in his team’s season-opening loss to No. 19 Oregon at a U.S. Army base in South Korea.
“It was kindergarten stuff,” said Smith, a UCLA transfer listed at 6 feet 10, 350 pounds, who had 25 points in front of hundreds of soldiers at Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul, the country’s capital. “Defensively, I didn’t play that well, plain and simple.”
Oregon, led by Joseph Young’s 24 points and five rebounds, beat Georgetown 82-75, using speed and strong free-throw shooting to overcome the Hoyas’ size and hustle.
“It’s not a successful day if Josh Smith only gets four rebounds,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
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Speaking of his team and of Smith, he said: “We’re a work in progress. He’s a work in progress. And our size, at the end of the day, wasn’t enough.”
Georgetown, which fought to get within four points, missed key free throws down the stretch, while the Ducks hit theirs.
Young made all 12 of his free-throw attempts for Oregon, and Jason Calliste, who scored 16 points, was also perfect, going 11 of 11.
“We’re a good free-throw shooting team,” Ducks coach Dana Altman said after the game, as soldiers and players mingled on the gym floor. “Our quickness gave them trouble, and their size gave us trouble.”
Other Pac-12 games
No. 6 Arizona got a test against visiting Cal Poly but pulled away in the second half for a 73-62 win. Arizona led 37-34 at halftime,
Steve Alford won in his head coaching debut at UCLA as the Bruins held off visiting Drexel 72-67.
Elsewhere in season openers for Pac-12 teams, host Utah State defeated USC 78-65, Arizona State defeated Maryland-Baltimore County 96-61, Stanford defeated Bucknell 72-68, No. 25 Baylor beat visiting Colorado 72-60, California beat Coppin State 83-64 and Utah beat Evergreen of Olympia 128-44 in an exhibition.
When Cornell’s Nolan Cressler scored his 20th point of the first half to give the Big Red an unimaginable 14-point lead over No. 8 Syracuse, the Carrier Dome faithful were in disbelief.
“Everybody sleeps on the Ivy League,” Cressler said. “Year in and year out, we compete with the best teams in the country. Whenever we’re playing our type of basketball, we can play with anybody and beat anybody.”
The Big Red showed that by taking a 36-22 lead when Tyler Roberson was called for goaltending on a shot by Cressler with 4:11 left in the opening half.
But Syracuse closed within six by halftime and went on an 18-5 run early in the second half to win 82-60 behind Trevor Cooney’s career-high 27 points.
“We were excited,” said Cressler, who scored 23. “Everybody had us as the underdog. To be up by 14 was exciting. We had all the momentum.”
Syracuse leads the series against Cornell 88-31 and has won 34 straight against the Big Red.
It was not nearly as suspenseful for most of the rest of the top 10 teams in their season openers. No. 1 Kentucky beat UNC-Asheville 89-57, No. 2 Michigan State beat McNeese State 98-56, No. 4 Duke routed Davidson 111-77, No. 5 Kansas topped Louisiana Monroe 80-63, No. 7 Michigan beat UMass-Lowell 69-42, No. 8 Oklahoma State (tied with Syracuse in the rankings) crushed Mississippi State 112-67, and No. 10 Florida beat North Florida 77-69.