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January 19, 2010

Power rankings: James keeps Texas rolling

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

Texas' talent-laden freshman class has garnered much of the attention around Austin this season, but the Longhorns rely most of all on the leadership of senior forward Damion James.

James had 26 points and 12 rebounds Saturday in a 72-67 overtime victory over Texas A&M. James made a 3-pointer with one minute left in overtime and also blocked a potential game-tying 3-point shot from A&M's B.J. Holmes in the closing seconds.

The performance helped make James the new No. 1 power forward in the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

"He's been around," Texas coach Rick Barnes said after the game. "He's improved a lot, and I think today he showed why he's the player he is and what he's developed into. He didn't flinch. He kept playing and made some big shots."

James struggled early in the game and had just three points at halftime, but he came on strong in the clutch. He scored seven points in the overtime session while recording a double-double for the seventh time in his past eight games.

"They came out and punched us in the mouth," James said. "I got down on myself in the first half because I missed a couple of shots. I shouldn't do that, though, because when my team sees my head down, they get down, too. I need to be out there as a leader, so in the second half I changed my swagger."

James took over the No. 1 power forward spot from Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, who shot 5-for-20 on Saturday in a 60-58 loss to Cincinnati.

This week featured plenty of changes atop the rankings.

Ohio State's Evan Turner replaced Syracuse's Wesley Johnson as the top small forward after averaging 23.5 points in victories over Purdue and Wisconsin. Turner had 32 points -- 23 in the second half -- as Ohio State rallied from a 13-point deficit Tuesday in a 70-66 victory at Purdue.

Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado displaced Kansas' Cole Aldrich as the No. 1 center. Varnado averaged 15.5 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in victories over Arkansas and Georgia. He recorded a triple-double Thursday with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks in an 82-80 triumph over Arkansas.

Kentucky point guard John Wall, Purdue shooting guard E'Twaun Moore and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo remained atop their respective positions. Wall also maintained his status as the nation's No. 1 freshman.

The current rankings considered performances through Sunday's games. The rankings measure overall career performances as well as the results of the past week.

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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