It's not too soon to look forward to Dec. 30.

That night, the feature of Pac-12 Conference basketball opening weekend tips off in the desert, with upstart Arizona State traveling to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats.

The Sun Devils continued to write one of the surprise stories so far in college basketball, moving up to No. 3 in this week's AP top 25. It equals the highest ranking in ASU history, matching No. 3 rankings for the Sun Devils in 1963 and 1981.

ASU improved to 10-0 for the first time in program history after rallying from an early deficit to defeat Vanderbilt 76-64. The Sun Devils trailed 13-0 out of the gate but outscored the Commodores by 25 points the rest of the way.

Arizona quietly has gotten its act together after a surprising 0-3 run through the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The Wildcats' 16-point decision Saturday at New Mexico extended their winning streak to five games since returning from the Bahamas, and they have welcomed Rawle Alkins back to the rotation after he missed the first nine games due to a foot injury. The New Mexico win was just the second game of Alkins' return, and he went 9-for-11 with 26 points and five rebounds.

Arizona moved up from No. 23 to No. 18 in this week's poll. After taking on North Dakota State Monday night, the Wildcats host UConn on Thursday.

Dealin'


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USC guard Jordan McLaughlin put together a historic performance Sunday, recording 19 assists in the Trojans' win against UC Santa Barbara. That total broke McLaughlin's previous school record of 16, and it also matched the all-time Pac-12 record for assists in a game. Arizona's Russell Brown also posted 19 assists on Dec. 8, 1979.

McLaughlin posted the highest assist total of any player so far in the 2017-18 college basketball season. The senior guard won his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor of the season and the third of his career.

Notable

After missing about a month due to a wrist injury, former Colorado star Derrick White returned to the Austin Spurs last week. Austin is the G-League affiliate of San Antonio, which selected White in the first round of last summer's draft...Stanford gets a shot at Kansas, now ranked 14th, in Sacramento on Thursday night...No. 7 Kentucky takes on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic Saturday in New Orleans.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07