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How we voted: Sun Devils, Wildcats entertain in first of two (or three?) Pac-12 meetings

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 1, 2018, 4:22 p.m.

Arizona forward Deandre Ayton (13) works toward the basket as Arizona State's Romello White defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. (Ralph Freso / AP)
Arizona forward Deandre Ayton (13) works toward the basket as Arizona State's Romello White defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. (Ralph Freso / AP)

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson explains how he voted in the Associated Press Top 25 with five general thoughts on this week’s poll, a few notes on the Pac-12 and an update on local Top 25 representative Gonzaga.

Five thoughts

1) Michigan State stockpiled the early part of its nonconference slate with quality games, but the Spartans haven’t seen anyone of note since Nov. 30 against Notre Dame. This might have been the time to drop Sparty from the top spot, but two of MSU’s neighbors inside the top four also fell, so it’ll be another week at No. 1 for Tom Izzo’s club.

2) The three remaining unbeatens each took tumbles this week and all within a few hours of one another on Saturday. The previous AP No. 1 Villanova took a 101-93 spill at Butler, No. 10 TCU got a courtside view of the Trae Young show and lost 90-89 to Oklahoma and Bobby Hurley’s upstart Arizona State team ran into its first loss, 84-78 at in-state rival Arizona.

3) Oklahoma’s Young continues to be the country’s top individual attraction. The freshman has averaged 31.2 points per game and 14.5 assists over his last four games. As a team, the Sooners have averaged 97.5 ppg.

4) No. 10 TCU vs. No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 18 Baylor vs. No. 22 Texas Tech gave us a good sample of what projects to be an entertaining year In the Big 12. Five teams in the conference are currently ranked, eight have hit already hit the double-digit win plateau and the other two are at nine.

5) Clemson jumps into my Top 25 for the first time, but let’s see how the Tigers handle an upcoming stretch that has the Tigers playing Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia in five of their next seven games.

Perusing the Pac-12

Arizona State – Even on an off-shooting night, the Sun Devils (38 percent from the field, 32 percent from 3) went blow-for-blow with a loaded Arizona team at the McKale Center. ASU absorbed its first loss, but I’d be surprised if the Sun Devils went to the conference tournament with more than five.

Arizona – If Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen aren’t the best one-two punch in the country, Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier very well could be. Those two combined for 46 points and Ayton snagged 19 rebounds in the Pac-12 opener. They could also be the only thing standing in ASU’s way come conference tournament time.

Home cooking

It’ll be damage control for Gonzaga from here on out. The Bulldogs can’t do a whole lot to beef up their resume – wins at BYU and Saint Mary’s certainly won’t hurt it – but they can’t afford any lazy losses, either. It’s hard to imagine that happening, given GU’s first games in the WCC. The Zags won those by a combined score of 182-100.


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