Suddenly the nonconference resume of the Pac-12 Conference looks much more appealing. And it largely came at the expense of one of the most respected programs in college basketball.
While Arizona State continued its eye-popping start with a win Sunday at Kansas, the Jayhawks also suffered a loss last week against Washington in Kansas City. The fact that much of the national narrative has focused on what’s wrong with Kansas, as opposed to the hot start by the Sun Devils, is a source of frustration for CU coach and Kansas alum Tad Boyle.
“Absolutely it’s good for the league,” Boyle said. “We want the Pac-12 to win every game in the non-league, and we haven’t done that. We’ve had some bad losses. We had one, Colorado State, but we can’t do anything about that now.
“It’s amazing to me is the national media when I read that Kansas has lost to Washington and Arizona State, it’s not the ‘Pac-12 is good.’ It’s ‘What’s wrong with KU?'”
The Sun Devils (9-0) rose to No. 5 in this week’s AP top 25, the first time the Sun Devils have cracked the top five since 1981. Colorado’s first Pac-12 home game is against ASU on Jan. 4, and in addition to KU the Sun Devils also boast a resume that includes wins against Xavier, St. John’s, and Kansas State.
Arizona also appeared to get back on track last week after a rough nonconference start, logging home wins against then-No. 7 Texas A&M and a solid Alabama team. The Wildcats moved back into this week’s national poll at No. 23.
The league’s other solid win over the weekend was a surprising one-point victory by Cal at San Diego State just days after the Golden Bears lost at home against Central Arkansas by 27 points.
USC, however, dropped out of this week’s poll and didn’t even receive a single vote after losing at home against Oklahoma. Ranked 10th in the preseason, the Trojans have lost three straight games after a 4-0 start.
The Sun Devils keep reaping Pac-12 weekly honors due to their hot start.
On Monday, ASU senior guard Shannon Evans was named the league’s Player of the Week after playing a pivotal role in the Sun Devils’ win at Kansas. Evans scored 22 points at KU, going 5-for-9 from 3-point range and 8-for-14 overall. Evans added five assists and two steals in 36 minutes without a turnover.
Evans also scored 18 points with six rebounds and six assists in a win Friday against St. John’s. ASU players have accounted for three of the league’s five player of the week honorees so far, with Tra Holder winning the honor in consecutive weeks last month.
The schedule generally slows down across the league with the beginning of Pac-12 play now almost two weeks away, but one of the more intriguing matchups of the upcoming week is No. 25 Cincinnati visiting UCLA on Saturday…Stanford was one of the preseason darkhorse candidates to compete for a high position on the league, but the Cardinal has struggled of late, beginning the week with losses in five of six games. Granted, two occurred against ranked teams (Florida, North Carolina), but Stanford also has suffered losses against Portland State and Long Beach State during that tailspin.