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Your Nightly Brutality: UC Davis hands Washington State its first loss

It was only a matter of time before a Big West team committed brutality.

NCAA Basketball: UC Davis at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Big West teams were 2-16 against Power 5 programs before this weekend. UC Davis was winless against high-majors since upsetting Stanford on Dec. 4, 2005.

Washington State, meanwhile, was the feel-good story of the Pac-12 after its 6-0 start and a Wooden Legacy title.

Naturally, the UC Davis Aggies strolled into Pullman and pulled off an 81-67 win that one could call the epitome of brutality.

The Aggies were on fire out of the gate with an 11-0 run, sparked by JuCo transfer T.J. Shorts, who set career high with 20 points. UC Davis’s patience on offense and superb ball movement stifled the Cougars throughout; to wit, seven of the nine Aggies scored, and their bench outscored Washington State’s 23-7.

Granted, the Pac-12 announcing crew was quick to remind the audience of Washington State’s knack for dramatic comebacks. The Cougars have been a second-half team this season, so on its face trailing the reigning Big West Champions at the first half isn’t too alarming.

But when UC Davis’s 12-5 run to close the first half made it a 17-point game at halftime, brutality seemed feasible. Then, when the Aggies picked up right where they left off with a 6-0 run to start to second, it was only a matter of time before Jon’s fabled “epitome of brutality” tweet.

But Washington State isn’t 6-0 — mostly fueled by come-from-behind wins —for nothing: The Cougars clawed back in the second half by shooting 47.4 from deep. Led by Robert Franks Jr.’s career outing with 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting, the Cougars picked apart UC Davis in the pick-and-roll.

The wheels nearly fell off the wagon late in the second, as the Aggies went cold. A.J. John fouled Franks on a made three. Head coach Jim Les was t’d up after seeing his Aggies no-show on a 3-on-1 fast break. Then, UC Davis committed two straight shot-clock violations. It looked like the Cougars would add another come-from-behind victory.

UC Davis’s cushion from the first half ended up being the difference maker. Oh, and maybe that Chima Moneke fellow — who’s casually averaging a double-double — might have something to do with that.

Although it won’t make the box score, the post play between Moneke, Garrison Goode and A.J. John looked really solid. Even though the Cougars had an edge in athleticism, the chemistry in the post led to plenty of open looks that Ernie Kent will fret over in the film room.

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