The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

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The Big Game never approached 'Big-dom'

Stanfords 21-3 victory over California in the 283rd Big Game was a pretty desultory affair by any definition except maybe Stepfan Taylors.

And Cals performance was particularly pewter-gray. Its offense, spotty in the best of time, left barely a drop of ink, and was so ineffectual that the defense, which was acceptable, couldnt actually make a dent at the other end.

As a result, Jeff Tedford got another turn in the pan, because there is nothing quite like never having a chance in the Big Game to agitate the alums who influence these decisions. He wont get fired unless one of those alums ponies up a big enough package to buy his last three years out, but he continues to lose support across the board.

Thats the politics, baby, as Richard Pryor used to say.

But having a coach on the hot seat on October 20th feels as hollow as anything else connected to this new Big Game tradition. The Pacific 12 Conference moved the game to this completely alien time, and though this seems a lot like complaining about the soot after the fire has been extinguished, its still difficult to take the game, its results or its ramifications seriously.

RELATED: Stanford dominates Cal 21-3 in 115th Big Game

And there are ramifications above and beyond just Tedfords still-chimerical jeopardy. Stanford has national aspirations that dont feel like they were particularly advanced by Saturdays win. Cal didnt have a game upon which it can build for the rest of the schedule Utah, Washington and the two Oregons. The new Memorial Stadium has still not been properly blooded by a game in bad weather.

There was an artificiality about this Big Game Week, as baseball crowded it out of the attention it rightly expected. There was no proper buildup, and even the on-campus traditions seemed a bit too, well, stand-alone. The Big Game is not a campus-only event, and frankly has been powered mostly by the alums for most of its history.

Oh, the schools tried, but traditions do not take dents lightly. This was a necessity logistically, but it still ended being a failure.

The game came and went Saturday but it never even approached Big-dom. It will be little known nor long remembered. Stanford controlled the game but did not dominate. Cal held its own in the second half, but never got close to making it an argument. And the arguments about Tedfords security just fell flat, because there is too much season still to be negotiated.

2012 doesnt figure to be a great year in Berkeley (the Ursines have a decent chance to split and finish a deeply meh 5-7), but the Big Game is designed either to buoy the fan base or bury it. This does neither.

Nor does Stanford look ahead to Notre Dame and then a big-deal bowl game yet. The Cardinal already played Notre Dame, and are likely to finish either 8-4 or 9-3, with Oregon State the make-or-break game.

But the season is still going to be kind of a pffffffttt, because the big moment for both schools has already come, and gone. The Big Game may have taken one for the team the team being Larry Scott but it took more for the team than the team deserved.

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

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Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.

Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

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Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

BOX SCORE

STANFORD -- Dorian Pickens scored 23 points, Reid Travis had 19 with nine rebounds and Stanford held on to beat California 73-68 on Friday night.

Marcus Allen added 11 points for the Cardinal, who overcame an early 12-point deficit to beat their cross-bay rivals for the 21st time in the last 24 meetings between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (13-13, 5-9 Pac-12) won for only the second time in seven games and split the season series with California.

Pickens had nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as part of a 20-5 run in the second half when the Cardinal pulled away.

After California closed within 62-56 on Grant Mullins' 3-pointer with 4:54 remaining, Allen made two free throws and Pickens scored on a jumper from the free-throw line as he was falling backward onto the court.

Jabari Bird scored 23 points and set a career-high with seven 3s for the Golden Bears (18-8, 9-5). Ivan Rabb added 16 points and 13 rebounds after being slowed by foul trouble in the first half.