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February 2, 2009

Awards: McNeal keeps Marquette on top

Marquette won't dig into the toughest part of its Big East schedule until the final five regular-season games, but the Golden Eagles don't mind waiting. In defeating Notre Dame and Georgetown last week, Marquette is 8-0 in the Big East.

Guard Jerel McNeal led the way by averaging 26.5 points in two games. For his efforts, Rivals.com named him the national player of the week.

McNeal had 27 points and four rebounds in a 71-64 win at Notre Dame. He topped that performance at home against Georgetown with 26 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in a 94-82 victory; it was his first double-double of the season.

Marquette leads the Big East for now, but its season could be determined after Feb. 25, when the Golden Eagles face Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to end the regular season.

Also considered:

Forward Chase Budinger helped Arizona get back into the conversation for an NCAA at-large bid with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a 106-97 win over Pac-10-leading Washington. He added 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in a 66-56 win over Washington State.

South Carolina suddenly is a factor in the SEC race. Guard Devan Downey had 18 points and four assists in an 86-76 win over Vanderbilt and topped that with 23 points including the last-second winning basket and four assists in a 78-77 victory at Kentucky.

LSU is surging in the SEC West thanks to Marcus Thornton. He had 29 points and three rebounds in a 79-73 win at Tennessee and 18 points and eight rebounds in a 79-69 win over Arkansas.

Kansas State pulled off two upsets in the Big 12. Denis Clemente stunned Texas with 44 points in an 85-81 overtime upset in Austin. He also had 10 points and seven assists in an 88-72 win over Missouri.

Connecticut junior center Hasheem Thabeet recorded his first career triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks in a 94-61 rout of Providence. He also had 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in a 71-49 win at DePaul.

Northwestern continued to make things interesting in the Big Ten with victories over Indiana and Wisconsin. Craig Moore had 21 points and four assists in a 77-75 win over the Hoosiers and 26 points in a 66-63 victory over the Badgers.

In his only game of the week, Talor Battle helped Penn State shock Michigan State with 29 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 72-68 upset in East Lansing.

NON-BIG SIX PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Nik Raivio, Portland

Portland is surging at the right time. The Pilots beat two top West Coast Conference opponents last week in time for a Thursday home game against Gonzaga.

Raivio, the brother of former Gonzaga guard Derek Raivio, led the way with 17 points and nine rebounds in the 69-55 win over San Diego. He topped himself in an 84-66 win over short-handed St. Mary's with 27 points and five rebounds.

If Portland beats Gonzaga on Thursday, the two would be tied for first place in the WCC.

Also considered:

Virginia Commonwealth guard Eric Maynor continued to put up gaudy numbers in the Colonial Athletic Association. Maynor had 30 points and three assists in a 68-63 loss to Northeastern before getting 33 points and nine rebounds in a 66-62 win at Hofstra over the weekend.

Utah Valley State guard Ryan Toolson scored 63 points in a 123-121 quadruple-overtime win over Chicago State. He was 18-of-31 from the field and 20-of-21 from the free-throw line while adding 12 rebounds and six assists. Saturday, Toolson had 22 points and five rebounds in a 69-60 loss to Cal State Bakersfield.

Luke Nevill helped Utah move into a three-way tie for the Mountain West lead with 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 94-88 win over BYU. He added 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks in a 69-68 win over New Mexico.

Utah State strengthened its lead in the WAC behind Tai Wesley's 22 points and six rebounds in a 72-61 win over Nevada on Thursday. He added 16 points, four rebounds and three assists in an 83-77 win at Fresno State.

Jahmar Young helped New Mexico State end a 1-4 skid with wins over San Jose State and Hawaii. Young had 32 points and four steals in an 89-81 win over the Spartans and 25 points and seven rebounds in an 82-72 win over the Warriors.

San Francisco forward Dior Lowhorn recorded consecutive double-doubles with 28 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-67 loss to Pepperdine and 23 points and 14 boards in a 73-53 win over Loyola Marymount.

Santa Clara center John Bryant recorded 12 points and 22 rebounds in an 82-56 win over Loyola Marymount and 19 points and 17 rebounds in a 64-52 win over Pepperdine. Bryant has seven consecutive double-doubles.

UCF guard Jermaine Taylor scored 22 points in a 70-45 rout of SMU and added 28 points in a 79-74 overtime win over Tulane.

FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Terrico White, Ole Miss

White helped Ole Miss rebound from a 1-4 start in SEC play with back-to-back wins over Kentucky and Mississippi State.

White had 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds in an 85-80 win over Kentucky. He then helped the Rebels end a 10-game losing streak to Mississippi State in Starkville with 18 points and five rebounds in a 67-63 win.

Also considered:

Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu had 15 points and 10 rebounds in a 70-68 win over top-ranked Duke. The Demon Deacons struggled in the next game, a 76-74 loss at Georgia Tech, but Aminu had 17 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.

Oklahoma guard Willie Warren had 29 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 78-68 win at Iowa State on Saturday. He also had 11 points in an 89-81 win at Oklahoma State.

UTEP forward Arnett Moultrie had 19 points and 18 rebounds in a 62-55 win at Houston on Wednesday. He got into foul trouble in an 87-75 win over Southern Miss, finishing with eight points and nine rebounds.

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson had a career-high 20 points in a 79-63 win over Florida on Saturday. He struggled in a 79-73 loss to LSU with only eight points and four rebounds.

In his only game of the week, Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert hit the tying and winning shots in the 76-74 upset of Wake Forest. He finished with nine points and four rebounds against the Demon Deacons.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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