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December 19, 2007

Bennett's big week earns big honors

Demetric Bennett, G, South Alabama

In Mobile, Ala., they don't call a hot streak "getting into the zone." They call it "going Demetric Bennett."

OK, maybe not. But they should.

Bennett, a 6-foot-4 senior guard at South Alabama, torched Mississippi State for 39 points as the Jaguars beat the Bulldogs 71-67 Saturday night at the Coors Classic in Mobile.

Bennett made 14-of-17 shots (82.3 percent), including all six of his 3-pointers, and 5-of-7 free throws. He added eight rebounds and three steals and is Rivals.com's National and Mid-Major Player of the Week.

"I really was just playing my game and taking shots I normally take, and they were just going down," Bennett told Rivals.com. "I started feeling it after I'd scored around 10 or 11 points. I got a little pumped."

Bennett was virtually unstoppable. At the 8:05 mark of the first half, he had all 20 of USA's points. Mississippi State had 18. When his team trailed by 13 points in the second half, Bennett scored 10 during the Jaguars' 23-4 run that gave them the lead.

Bennett is averaging 20.2 points and 6.1 rebounds. The 39-point game was a career high and tied for the sixth-best game in Division I this season. It was the fourth time this season Bennett scored at least 25 in a game.

He said there was nothing to indicate he was headed for a career night.

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG NUMBERS
The SEC should be thankful South Alabama guard Demetric Bennett plays in the Sun Belt. He has torched the Jaguars' three SEC opponents this season:
Opponent, scorePointsField goals3-pt.
L, at Ole Miss, 81-782811-of-186-of-11
L, at Vanderbilt, 91-88259-of-203-of-12
W, Miss. State, 71-673914-of-176-of-6
Totals31.734-of-55 (.618)15-of-29 (.517)
"To be honest, I couldn't hit a shot in warm-ups," Bennett said. "I know that wasn't a sign."

The game was even more significant for South Alabama because it snapped a 15-game losing streak against SEC opponents. The Jaguars hadn't beaten an SEC team since downing Auburn on Dec. 1, 2000. They've lost to two SEC teams this season, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, both of which are undefeated.

"It meant a lot to me (to beat an SEC team)," Bennett said. "I hadn't won one against them since I've been here. We lost by three at Ole Miss and in overtime at Vanderbilt."

The Jaguars (7-3) are a team to watch in the Sun Belt. Their only losses are to the aforementioned SEC teams on the road and to Miami (Ohio), a solid mid-major program, by five points at a neutral site.

"I think we have a chance to be pretty good," Bennett said. "We never get down. We still fight and claw to come back. We have a chance to make some noise in the nation."

OTHER NOMINEES FOR NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

G Ty Lawson, North Carolina
Showing that he is fully recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him earlier in the season, Lawson had 26 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in the Tar Heels' 93-71 win over Rutgers.




DeJuan Blair
Forward/Center
Pittsburgh



This marks the third time the Panthers' freshman has been named the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week. Blair dominated Oklahoma State in Pittsburgh's only game last week, with 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and two steals.

Blair was 8-of-10 from the floor to improve his season field-goal percentage to 57.6, ninth in the Big East. He also ranks in the top 10 in the conference in rebounding (eighth at 9.1 per game) and steals (second at 2.4 per game).

OTHER NOMINEES:

F Donte Greene, Syracuse
Greene hit five 3-pointers and made all six of his free throws en route to 25 points in the Orange's 125-75 win over East Tennessee State. He also had eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.


C Mac Koshwal, DePaul
Koshwal, a 6-foot-10 Chicago native, had a season-high 21 points in a narrow loss to Vanderbilt and followed up with his first double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds) in a loss to Illinois-Chicago.



Demetric Bennett
Guard
South Alabama



It only makes sense that Bennett, our National Player of the Week, claims this honor as well.

OTHER NOMINEES:

G Antoine Agudio, Hofstra
Agudio helped the Pride to a big 70-68 win over Charlotte with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.


G Lee Cummard, BYU
Cummard shot a sizzling 75 percent (21-of-28) in two games last week. He had 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and no turnovers against Lamar, and 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocks against Pepperdine.


G Robert Vaden, UAB
Vaden scored 28 of his 33 points in the second half of the Blazers' 79-76 comeback win over Kentucky.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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