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March 3, 2009

Power rankings: Tar Heel starters move up

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

The latest edition of the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings features a distinct North Carolina flavor.

Three players from the state of North Carolina have moved to the top of their respective categories in the power rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position. Davidson's Stephen Curry is the new No. 1 point guard, Duke's Gerald Henderson moves atop the small forward rankings and North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough regains his status as the nation's top center.

Hansbrough moved back to the No. 1 spot after a three-week absence on the strength of his 28-point, 10-rebound performance Saturday in a 104-74 rout of Georgia Tech. Hansbrough went 8-for-8 from the line in that game and now has made 907 career free throws, breaking former Wake Forest star Dickie Hemric's 54-year-old NCAA record.

"It means a lot," Hansbrough said of the record. "Those are some great players up there, and for me to be at that top spot, it's an honor."

Hansbrough displaced Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair as the No. 1 center in the power rankings. Blair averaged 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.0 turnovers last week as the Panthers lost to Providence and beat Seton Hall. The Panthers' loss to Providence also allowed Kansas' Bill Self to replace Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon atop the head coach rankings.

The news wasn't all good for the Tar Heels.

Ty Lawson fell from the top spot in the point guard rankings after missing all three of his shots against Georgia Tech, though he did have 11 assists in that game. Lawson was replaced by Curry, who made more than half his shots while averaging 27 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in victories over UNC-Greensboro and Georgia Southern.

Curry's 34-point performance Saturday in a 99-56 rout of Georgia Southern gave him 2,488 career points to break the 30-year-old school record held by John Gerdy, who watched the game from a second-row midcourt seat at Davidson's John M. Belk Arena.

In the small forward rankings, Henderson surged to the top spot after averaging 20 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in road victories over Maryland and Virginia Tech.

"Gerald's kind of our catalyst," Duke forward Kyle Singler said after the Blue Devils' 78-67 victory over Maryland. "If we need a big play, it seems like he comes up with it. That's who Gerald is."

Henderson moved ahead of Arizona State's James Harden, who shot a combined 30 percent (9-for-30) in losses to Washington and Washington State.

Kentucky shooting guard Jodie Meeks and Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin stayed atop the rankings at their respective positions. Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans remained the nation's No. 1 freshman.

This week's edition of the power rankings takes into account all games through Sunday.

The power rankings of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

Rivals.com Power Rankings: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Freshman | Head Coach

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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