A look at things to watch this week in Pac-12 Conference basketball:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Arizona State at No. 24 Arizona, Saturday. A rivalry game game right out of the gate is a great way to kick off the conference season. The Wildcats (10-3) and their trio of fabulous freshman got off to a strong start before losing three of their final four nonconference games. The Sun Devils (9-4) similarly had some good moments early in nonconference before a few ugly ones late. Rivalry games are always intense and McKale Center will be rocking Saturday night.
LOOKING AHEAD: Oregon (11-2) moved up to No. 4 in The Associated Press Top 25, matching the 2017 Final Four team for highest ranking in program history. The Ducks open the conference season with a pair of tough road games. On Thursday, Oregon faced Colorado, which was ranked earlier this season and has one of the Pac-12’s best 1-2 punches in McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey. The Ducks then head to Utah on Saturday to face a Utes team that has a win over No. 17 Kentucky on their resume.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Pac-12 has four teams in the top 25 of the NCAA’s NET rankings, second only to the Big Ten with five. … The conference had seven teams win at least 10 nonconference games for the second time in league history. … Washington freshman Isaiah Stewart is tied for second nationally with six double-doubles and USC’s Onyeka Okongwu is tied for fourth with five.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Chris Duarte, Oregon. The 6-foot-6 junior college transfer has had an immediate impact on the Ducks, averaging 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds. Duarte was named the Pac-12 player of the week after making six 3-pointers and scoring 31 points in a blowout win over Alabama State.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 18 Arizona (12-0) is off to the best start in program history, but faces a stiff test Sunday, playing at No. 10 UCLA in the first top-25 matchup of the Pac-12 season. … The Pac-12 has five ranked schools, including No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Oregon State and No. 5 Stanford. … Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard needs 15 points to become the 12th Pac-12 player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Teammate Sabrina Ionescu needs seven assists to become the 12th player in Division history with 900 career assists.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.
For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25