The Pac-12 Conference still is lagging behind its national peers four weeks into the 2018-19 season. But Stanford very nearly cut the gap Saturday.
A league lacking any impressive nonconference wins against marquee national foes almost got one from the Cardinal, which took No. 2 Kansas to overtime before dropping a 90-84 decision. Stanford was just a 3-pointer from Kansas' Lagerald Vick with seven seconds remaining in regulation away from giving a huge present to Cardinal coach Jerod Haase, who played at Kansas.
Though Stanford begins the week with a 4-4 mark, the Cardinal, unlike the Colorado Buffaloes, was able to line up a number of power conference foes for its nonconference slate. Stanford has played at Kansas and North Carolina, while also playing Wisconsin and Florida in the Bahamas.
Obviously it remains to be seen how facing that competition away from home helps Stanford once Pac-12 play begins, and the Cardinal begins week two of the NCAA's new NET power rankings at No. 96. One week after the launching of the NET rankings was met with wide criticism, the NET took on a more recognizable look in week two, with Virginia, Gonzaga, Michigan, Duke and Texas Tech taking the top five spots.
Colorado moved from No. 68 to No. 56 in the latest NET.
In the weekly AP poll released Monday, unbeaten Arizona State was the only Pac-12 team to crack the top 25, coming in at No. 20. Oregon, ranked 18th last week, dropped out following consecutive losses against Texas Southern and Houston.
Player of the Week
For the second straight week, an Arizona State standout has won the league's Player of the Week honor.
This time it went to senior Zylan Cheatham, who recorded just the second triple-double in ASU history with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a home win Saturday against Texas Southern. Cheatham also went 6-for-9 from the floor with two steals against Texas Southern, which was coming off its upset win at Oregon.
A transfer from San Diego State, Cheatham also nearly posted a triple-double three days earlier in a win against Omaha, going 5-for-10 with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. ASU freshman Luguentz Dort captured the honor last week, and it marked the second straight year an ASU player has won consecutive Pac-12 Player of the Week awards. Former guard Tra Holder achieved that feat by himself in November 2017.
ASU will put its hot start on the line Friday night against No. 6 Nevada in Los Angeles.
Former CU Buffs forward Tory Miller-Stewart finally made his debut with the University of Denver Saturday in a loss at Utah Valley, recording four points and two rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench. Miller-Stewart missed the Pioneers' first seven games due to a wrist injury...Washington crosses its state to visit top-ranked Gonzaga on Wednesday (9 p.m. MT, ESPN2)...UCLA rekindles a traditional rivalry at home against Notre Dame on Saturday (8:30 p.m. MT, ESPN2).