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Pac-12 Men's Hoops Wrap-Up 12/23: Arizona Falls, Stanford Stuns

It seems Santa brought the Pac-12 a huge lump of madness for Christmas this year. With the Arizona Wildcats suffering their first defeat of the season, and the Stanford Cardinal winning on the road against a top-10 opponent, the question becomes: what next?

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

It may have taken a bit longer than anticipated, but the first wild day of the Pac-12 season has officially arrived.  What began as an innoxious five-day slate of games on Christmas Eve Eve, the once vaunted Arizona Wildcats went down, while the fringe Stanford Cardinal went up.

George Washington 53, Colorado 50: Believe it or not, this wasn't the upset that had everyone in the Pac-12 up in arms.  Although, losing to a school that is named after one of our original founding fathers while playing on an island that didn't become a state (colony?) until nearly two hundred years later seems too bizarre to comprehend.

If you like three-point shooting (which is basically everyone ever), this was not the game for you.  GW would go 1-for-8, while the Buffs would go just 1-for-12 en route to what looked like an early game in Hawaii on Christmas break (that's more than likely because it was all of those things).

This serves as a bit of a precursor as to what Colorado will be facing once conference plays starts up in the second semester.  If they don't have a breakout scoring performance from players like Josh Scott or Askia Booker, they become an average club that goes through periods of slog-slog that is more sloggish than other team's slog.

Scott and Wesley Gordon would tie for the team-high in points with 10 a piece, while Booker would pitch in just eight while going 4-for-13 from the field.

(But wait, the Buffs actually assisted on only four baskets.  Like, as a team.  The founding fathers would not be amused.)

Arizona State 93, Detroit 54: If you were to look up in the dictionary, "violent mauling," it would have a direct link to the box score of this contest.

Playing against former teammate Brandan Kearney, and Juwan Howard Jr., son of-you guessed it-Juwan Howard, the Sun Devils went wild, obliterating a Detroit team that stuck around with #11 Wichita State earlier this season.  The Titans would assist on just seven baskets while making 20 turnovers.

Leading the way once again was the new savior of Sun Devils basketball, Savon Goodman.  For the second straight game, he was good for at least 20 and 10, putting up 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way as ASU never really felt threatened on their home floor.

The wheel of fortune known as Herb Sendek's minutes brigade continued to spin in whatever way it wants, with Jonathan Gilling and Kodi Justice getting just seven minutes, despite the 40-point cushion.  Once the Devils figure out some semblance of a rotation, they may be dangerous due to the addition of Goodman.

Stanford 74, #9 Texas 71 (OT): It's upset city, baby!!!  As thoughts of Dick Vitale danced in my head like sugarplums, the Cardinal somehow went east to Austin and took down a top-10 team on the road in overtime.

Leading the way was the sweet shooting of Anthony Brown, who'd nail all four threes he'd take, scoring 25 points to lead all scorers.  Chasson Randle wasn't too shabby either, scoring 22 points in the victory.

Even without Longhorns point guard Isaiah Taylor; this win is a momentum changer for the Cardinal, who lost on the road to DePaul earlier this season.  Say what you will about their depth (they have none), but two of their three losses came to above average teams (Duke, duh, and BYU was by just a bucket).

Coming on December 23, this was the first road win of the season for Stanford.

#14 Utah 80, South Dakota State 66: I'm unsure of how pleased we can be with the Utes' unbelievable efficiency that they continue to display considering they just played a team named the Jackrabbits.

Regardless, Delon Wright would be the superstar in charge once again, making seven of his eight shots, finishing with 17 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds.  Yet, he wouldn't be the leading scorer.  That honor went to-drum roll, please-Brekkott Chapman?  The freshman from Roy, Utah, had 36 points all season long coming into tonight, but in 25 minutes of playing time, he'd score 22 off the bench to lead the Utes.

Dishing out 21 assists as team (with just 11 turnovers) and shooting just under 52 per cent from the field, Utah continues to show why they'll be one of the more difficult teams to eliminate come March.

UNLV 71, #3 Arizona 67: At the moment, this is somewhat of a shocking loss to the Wildcats system.  In the long run, it wasn't as if they were about to run the table, and in an odd way, losing a game on the road in non-conference play will prepare this squad for similar situations during the season.

One of the flaws it did expose for U of A was the lack of a go-to shooter in crunch time.  Stanley Johnson would miss a layup in transition late in the game, but still finished as arguably the best player for the ‘Cats, scoring 13 points and 13 boards.

Having Rondae Hollis-Jefferson foul out certainly didn't do Arizona any favors, especially in overtime when they missed his defense on Christian Wood (who'd finish with 24 points and 10 rebounds) and Rashad Vaughn (21 points and five rebounds).

The core seven players the ‘Cats display are good enough that on any given night, the opposition must play their absolute best in order to beat them; and on Tuesday, the Rebels played their best game of the season and their fans got to rush the court for it.