Pac-12 men’s hoops power rankings: Arizona State leaps in rankings after big win

Sean Goebel/Staff

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1. No. 18 Oregon (4-2) — Previous rank: 1
Last week: 1-0

After an eventful week at the 2K Empire Classic, Oregon’s only game of this past week came in a victory against Green Bay. Bol Bol did Bol Bol things, Payton Pritchard stuffed the stat sheet and Kenny Wooten swatted some shots. Oregon is still looking for that third option on offense to complement Bol and Pritchard. After a cupcake game against Texas Southern, Oregon will have a tough matchup against Houston.

2. UCLA (4-2) — Previous rank: 2
Last week: 1-2

UCLA’s first challenges came this past week with battles against a pair of big boppers in No. 11 Michigan State and No. 7 North Carolina at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. The result was two losses. The Bruins led the Tar Heels at the halftime break but were outscored 53-32 in the second half as Moses Brown fouled out early on. Things almost got real ugly when UCLA’s star Kris Wilkes hit the floor after a block and grimaced in pain, but it was only a cramp.

3. Arizona State (5-0) — Previous rank: 6
Last week: 2-0

The Pac-12 as a whole has probably gotten off to the worst start of any of the Power Five conferences, but through five games, the Sun Devils have come correct. Behind a game-winning 3-pointer and a career-high 22 points from Kimani Lawrence, Arizona State upset No. 15 Mississippi State and then narrowly defeated Utah State the next night. The Sun Devils are growing accustomed to nail-biters, as three of their five games have been decided by 8 points or fewer. Luguentz Dort continued his hot start, dropping a career-high 33 points against the Aggies.

4. Washington (4-2) — Previous rank: 3
Last week: 2-1

The colors on the “concern meter” are slowly transitioning from yellow to orange up in Seattle. Santa Clara managed to keep things competitive despite its best player being sidelined, and Texas A&M couldn’t hold onto its halftime lead. Against Minnesota, Washington led for almost all of the second half but allowed a game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds remaining. Scoring has been hard to find outside of Noah Dickerson and Jaylen Nowell, who accounted for 59.8 percent of the Huskies’ points this week. That screams unsustainable. Luckily for Washington, the team has a pair of “get right” games against Eastern Washington and UC Santa Barbara this upcoming week.

5. Arizona (4-2) — Previous rank: 4
Last week: 1-2

Maui madness! Arizona had the toughest slate of opponents of any team in the Pac-12 this week, facing Iowa State, No. 3 Gonzaga and No. 8 Auburn. All things considered, Arizona should be satisfied with winning one of those three ball games. Hawaii served as the backdrop to Justin Coleman’s coming-out party as he averaged 20.7 points per game and shot 57.1 percent in the tournament, much to the delight of the mythic Bill Walton.

6. USC (4-2) — Previous rank: 5
Last week: 2-1

USC lost to a Texas Tech team that’s playing out of its mind right now, but the Trojans bounced back with a pair of wins against Missouri State and CSU Bakersfield. Bennie Boatwright has been impressive in limited minutes, averaging 17.3 points per game while shooting 60 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from deep.

7. Colorado (3-1) — Previous rank: 7
Last week: 1-1

Plain and simple, San Diego was a game that Colorado could have and should have won. Instead, the Buffaloes starters only hit 13 of their 34 shot attempts and turned the ball over nine times. If not for Evan Battey’s 18 points off the bench, they might not have been in the game. Colorado handled business against Air Force by 37 points, but there’s not that much to write home about in that victory.

8. Stanford (3-3) — Previous rank: 8
Last week: 1-2

Another week brought more tough opponents. After playing No. 7 North Carolina last week, Stanford was tasked with No. 25 Wisconsin and Florida at the Battle 4 Atlantis. While the Cardinal could muster some offense against the Tar Heels, their offense fell silent against the Badgers and Gators as Stanford scored 46 and 49 points, respectively. Including the win against Middle Tennessee, Stanford scored an average of 54 points.

9. Oregon State (5-1) — Previous rank: 10
Last week: 2-0

Hard to knock Oregon State for banging out two more victories, even if it only managed to defeat Long Beach State by three points. Tres Tinkle continued to stuff the stat sheet, posting 32 points and 12 rebounds against the Quakers. Stephen Thompson Jr. has excelled as a secondary option, but his brother Ethan Thompson is still trying to consistently find his footing on offense.

10. Utah (3-3) — Previous rank: 9
Last week: 1-2

Much like Colorado, Utah had a very winnable game against Hawaii on the docket, but the Utes’ typically sturdy defense allowed the Warriors to drop 90 points on 52.8 percent shooting. The loss to Northwestern wasn’t pretty, either, but playing any Big Ten opponent isn’t much fun.

11. Washington State (3-1) — Previous rank: 12
Last week: 2-0

Turns out having Robert Franks Jr. is pretty important. After missing last week’s loss to Seattle through injury, Franks made a triumphant return, posting 30 points, six rebounds and five assists against Cal Poly and then following it up with 24 points and 11 rebounds against Delaware State. Washington State has won every game he’s played thus far, and the team will need him against a tough opponent in New Mexico State this week.

12. Cal (2-3) — Previous rank: 11
Last week: 0-2

Cal is the only team in the Pac-12 with a losing record, so it’s hard to justify anything other than last place in the power rankings. Cal did give St. John’s a run for its money, nearly pulling off the upset before being overpowered by Shamorie Ponds’ 32 points. Santa Clara should be a relatively easy victory, but St. Mary’s will be one of Cal’s tougher games of the season.

Justice delos Santos covers men’s basketball. Contact Justice delos Santos at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @justdelossantos.