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February 23, 2009

Blair powers his way to player of week honors

Heisman Trophy candidates usually need to have a defining "Heisman moment" as a prerequisite for winning the award.

Pittsburgh forward DeJuan Blair doesn't play football, but he had his signature moment for postseason honors against Connecticut last week.

Early in the game against the then-No. 1 Huskies, the 6-foot-7 Blair flipped 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet over his back while grabbing a rebound. That was only the start to Blair's All-American-caliber performance against the Huskies. He finished with 22 points and 23 rebounds while holding Thabeet to five points and four boards in a huge 76-68 win.

Blair added 20 points and 18 rebounds Saturday in an 80-61 win over DePaul to earn Rivals.com national player of the week honors. Blair's 41 rebounds in two games set a school record.

Also considered:

Marquette guard Wesley Matthews had 24 points, four rebounds and four assists in a 79-67 victory over Seton Hall. He added 23 points, three rebounds and three assists in a 78-72 win at Georgetown to give the Golden Eagles momentum heading into a monster three-game stretch: Connecticut, Louisville and Pitt.

Florida State could end its 11-season NCAA tournament drought thanks to an excellent week by guard Toney Douglas. He had 24 points and four assists in an 80-67 win over Miami on Wednesday and 22 points, four rebounds and four assists in a 67-65 victory at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Maryland has been criticized for poor play over the past few weeks, but Greivis Vasquez eased some of that with the Terrapins' first triple-double in 22 years and it came in an upset over North Carolina. Vasquez had 35 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the 88-85 overtime thriller over the Tar Heels on Saturday. He also had 12 points in a 93-64 loss to Clemson on Tuesday.

Purdue remains in the mix for the Big Ten championship after JaJuan Johnson had 17 points and four rebounds in a 72-54 victory over Michigan State. He added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in an 81-67 win over Indiana on Saturday.

Texas A&M ended its three-game losing streak with wins over in-state rivals. Forward/center Chinemelu Elonu had 15 points and seven rebounds in an 81-66 win over Texas last Monday and had 21 points and 12 rebounds in a 79-73 win at Texas Tech on Saturday.

Terrence Williams and Louisville would not let Providence or Cincinnati get a signature win last week. Williams had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a 94-76 win over the Friars on Wednesday. He then had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 72-63 victory at Cincinnati on Saturday.

LSU continued to lead the SEC thanks to two huge games from guard Marcus Thornton. He had 28 points, seven steals and six rebounds in a 72-69 victory at Arkansas on Wednesday. He added 25 points and seven rebounds Saturday in a 79-72 win over Auburn.

Oregon State completed a season sweep of the Pac-10's Bay Area schools with wins at home over Stanford and California. Guard Calvin Haynes had 17 points and five rebounds in a 66-54 win over the Cardinal on Thursday. He added 19 points and three rebounds in a 65-54 upset of the Golden Bears on Saturday.

Forward Trevor Booker helped Clemson recover from a brief funk with 11 points and 14 rebounds in a 93-64 win over Maryland on Tuesday and 21 points and 12 rebounds in an 81-73 win at Georgia Tech on Sunday.

After a 2-4 stretch in the ACC, Duke recovered somewhat. Junior swingman Gerald Henderson had 19 points and four rebounds in a 76-69 win over St. John's on Thursday. He added a career-high 35 points in a big 101-91 victory over Wake Forest on Sunday night.

NON-BIG SIX PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Omar Samhan, Saint Mary's

At one point, Saint Mary's looked like a lock for the NCAA tournament. That was before an injury to leading scorer Patrick Mills. Now, thanks to recent contributions from Samhan, the Gaels hope to ride some momentum into the West Coast Conference tournament.

Samhan had 20 points and 10 rebounds Thursday in a 65-61 win over San Diego. He added 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 75-64 victory over Utah State in a BracketBuster matchup Saturday.

The Gaels have won three in a row going into the final two road games against WCC bottom-feeders Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. And Mills is expected back for the league tournament.

Also considered:

Western Kentucky swingman Sergio Kerusch had 18 points and 11 rebounds in a 78-69 victory at Sun Belt West Division leader Arkansas-Little Rock on Thursday. He followed up with 26 points and 12 rebounds in a 79-66 win over Florida International on Saturday.

Creighton won its eighth consecutive game and grabbed a share of the Missouri Valley Conference lead last week. Guard Booker Woodfox had 13 points in an 89-84 win over Evansville and 22 points in a 76-63 win over George Mason in a BracketBuster game.

Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins scored 32 points and dished out 13 assists in a 99-96 double-overtime win over James Madison on Wednesday. He added 13 points and nine assists in a 61-56 win at Fairfield on Saturday.

North Dakota State guard Ben Woodside scored 32 points in a 96-74 win over South Dakota State on Tuesday. He added 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 77-69 victory at Wisconsin-Milwaukee in a BracketBuster game Saturday.

Austin Peay forward Drake Reed had 30 points and 14 rebounds in a 72-60 win at Jacksonville State on Tuesday. He added 22 points and five rebounds in a 71-54 loss to Drake in a BracketBuster game Saturday.

American continued to lead the Patriot League with a 56-50 victory over second-place Holy Cross on Saturday. Guard Garrison Carr had 28 points in that win and earlier had 13 points in a 58-36 rout at Army.

Mercer guard James Florence scored 34 points in an 88-67 loss at Lipscomb on Friday. He added 30 points and five rebounds in an 89-83 win over Atlantic Sun-leading Belmont on Sunday.

FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

Ebanks continued his development into a key weapon for West Virginia. Ebanks, a five-star prospect from the class of 2008, had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists in a 79-68 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday. He added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in a 74-56 win at Rutgers on Sunday for his fifth consecutive game scoring in double digits.

Also considered:

Oklahoma guard Willie Warren was a one-man team once star Blake Griffin went down with a concussion against Texas. Warren finished with 27 points, six assists and two rebounds in Saturday's 73-68 loss to the Longhorns.

Ole Miss guard Terrico White scored 21 points and added six assists and five rebounds in an 81-65 victory over Tennessee on Wednesday. He also had 19 points, four rebounds and three assists in a 69-47 win over Georgia on Saturday. Rebels forward Murphy Holloway had 18 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Tennessee. He added another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over Georgia.

Guard Sylven Landesberg continued to be one of the few bright spots for Virginia with 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a 75-61 upset of Virginia Tech on Wednesday. He also had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 72-67 loss at N.C. State on Saturday.

Butler swingman Gordon Hayward made up for a four-point, four-rebound performance against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday with 27 points and nine rebounds in a 75-63 victory at Davidson on Saturday in a BracketBuster game.

Duke's Elliot Williams scored 11 points in wins over St. John's and Wake Forest while going 10-for-14 from the floor.

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

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