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Pac-12 notes: Split-heavy opening week could be sign of things to come in league play

UW’s Isaiah Stewart wins third straight Freshman of Week award

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If there is a silver lining to Colorado’s deflating home loss on Sunday against Oregon State, and certainly it is a tenuous positive at best, it’s that the Buffaloes pretty much are in the same place as everyone else after the first weekend of Pac-12 Conference play.

All eight teams that played a two-game series — the Oregon schools visited the Buffs and Utah, while the Los Angeles schools journeyed through Washington — ended the weekend with splits. The home teams won in each of the single-game matchups, with Arizona topping Arizona State and Stanford defeating Cal, leaving 10 teams within a half-game of each other going into Week 2.

That obviously isn’t an entirely novel situation in such a small sample size. Yet while Oregon has established itself as a firm favorite at the outset of league play, the Buffs showed the Ducks hardly are unbeatable. And if UCLA can win at Washington, there is a good chance every weekend will feature at least one head-scratching result that shakes up the standings.

In the weekly AP Top 25 released Monday, Oregon’s loss at CU resulted in a four-spot drop for the Ducks to No. 9. Arizona moved up one spot to No. 24 and the Buffs made a surprise return to the poll at No. 25.

In the latest NET rankings going into Monday’s play across the nation, it is Arizona that led nine Pac-12 teams in the top 75 at No. 13. Oregon trailed at No. 15, followed by Stanford (16), Colorado (32), Washington (44), Utah (47), Oregon State (56), Arizona State (65), and USC (71). Washington State (125), UCLA (138), and Cal (183) rounded out the rest of the league.

By virtue of its win in Boulder, Oregon State jumped from No. 78 to No. 56 in the NET.

The league’s marquee matchup this week will take place on Thursday night, with 24th-ranked Arizona visiting the ninth-ranked Ducks (7 p.m. MT, ESPN). While the Arizona schools tour Oregon, the Washington schools will visit Cal and Stanford.

Freshman honor

For the third consecutive week and the fourth time in five weeks, Washington forward Isaiah Stewart has been named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week.

Stewart’s heroics were not enough to prevent the Huskies from suffering an ugly home loss last week against UCLA, but he still finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high-tying five blocked shots. Stewart enjoyed another big game in UW’s win against USC, recording 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Stewart went 6-for-12 from the field in each game and went a combined 18-for-21 at the free throw line, including a 12-for-14 effort against UCLA.

In the first season of the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Week award, just four players have won the nine honors so far — Stewart (4), Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji (2), USC’s Onyeka Okongwu (2), and Arizona’s Nico Mannion (1).

Notable

Oregon State guard Ethan Thompson went 8-for-9 on free throws against CU and is 21-for-22 at the free throw line in his past three games…Washington’s 32-point trouncing of USC on Sunday night was the Huskies’ biggest win in terms of scoring margin since a 32-point win against Cal on Feb. 10, 2011…UCLA junior Chris Smith scored a career-best 22 points in Saturday’s overtime loss at Washington State.