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March 2, 2009

Thornton helps lift LSU back to top of the SEC

Don't tell LSU the SEC is having a down season.

After missing the tournament and losing a coach last season, the Tigers are sitting on top of the conference this season. Last week, LSU put Florida's and Kentucky's NCAA tournament prospects in question with consecutive wins over the Eastern Division foes.

Tigers guard Marcus Thornton led the way with a 55-point week to earn Rivals.com national player of the week honors.

At home against Florida, Thornton had 32 points, five rebounds and five assists in an 81-75 win on Tuesday. The hot streak continued on the road with 23 points, nine boards and four assists in a 73-70 victory at Kentucky. Thornton was 16-of-38 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free-throw line for the week.

Also considered:

Guard Sherron Collins led the way for Kansas as the Jayhawks took over first place in the Big 12. He scored 26 points and added three assists in an 87-78 victory at Oklahoma on Monday and had 25 points and six assists in a 90-65 rout of Missouri on Sunday.

Collins got help from forward Cole Aldrich, who had double-doubles in both games last week. He had 15 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks in the win over Oklahoma and 19 points and 14 boards in the victory over Missouri.

Forward Jon Brockman helped Washington win at least a share of the Pac-10 regular-season title with double-doubles against the Pac-10's Arizona schools. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds in a 73-70 win over Arizona State on Thursday before adding 19 points and 11 boards in an 83-78 victory over Arizona on Saturday.

Forward Earl Clark kept Louisville in the hunt for the Big East title with 22 points and eight rebounds in a 76-58 victory at Georgetown on Monday. He added 10 points and 13 boards in a 62-58 win over Marquette on Sunday.

Providence made a statement for the NCAA tournament selection committee with an 81-73 win over then-No. 1 Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Weyinmi Efejuku led the Friars with 16 points and three rebounds. He added 28 points in a 73-66 victory at Rutgers on Sunday.

Forward Tyler Smith led Tennessee with 19 points and seven rebounds in a 79-75 win over Florida on Sunday to end the Gators' 17-game home winning streak. Smith also had 13 points and nine rebounds in an 81-76 win over Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Duke swept its two road games last week behind Gerald Henderson. He had 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in a 78-67 win at Maryland on Wednesday. He also had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 72-65 victory at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Oklahoma State extended its winning streak to five games, thanks to victories over Colorado and Texas. James Anderson led the Cowboys with 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 76-55 win over the Buffaloes on Wednesday. He added 16 points and five rebounds in the 68-59 upset of the Longhorns on Saturday.

Hasheem Thabeet helped Connecticut recover from its loss to Pittsburgh with double-doubles against Marquette and Notre Dame. Thabeet had 14 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in a 93-82 victory over the Golden Eagles on Wednesday. He added 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks in a 72-65 win over Notre Dame on Saturday.


BYU trails Utah by one game in the Mountain West Conference after Fredette scored 25 points to lead BYU to a 63-50 victory over the Utes on Saturday. Fredette repeatedly challenged Utah big man Luke Nevill by driving to the lane for layups for his second 20-point game of the week.

The Cougars also beat Mountain West contender San Diego State 69-59 on Tuesday. Fredette, a sophomore, tied a career high with 28 points and also added five rebounds and four assists against the Aztecs.

Also considered:

Forward Kahiem Seawright has put Rhode Island into NCAA tournament contention with 21 points and six rebounds in a 73-71 victory at Duquesne on Sunday. He added 19 points and five rebounds in a 93-91 win over Dayton on Wednesday.

Guard Stephen Curry helped Davidson stop a two-game losing streak with two routs. Curry had 34 points, six assists and four rebounds in a 99-56 thrashing of Georgia Southern on Saturday. He added 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a 70-49 victory over UNC-Greensboro on Wednesday.

East Tennessee State guard Courtney Pigram broke out of a three-game slump with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds in an 81-46 win against Kennesaw on Thursday. He topped that with 38 points, six assists and four rebounds in a 103-81 victory over Mercer on Saturday.

Guard Chavis Holmes helped VMI rebound from a three-game losing streak with two Big South road wins. Holmes had 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists in a 109-72 rout of Liberty on Tuesday. He added 19 points and three boards in an 81-76 victory at High Point on Saturday.

UCF guard Jermaine Taylor continued to put up big numbers for a struggling team with 45 points in a 69-66 loss to Rice on Wednesday and 28 points in a 67-62 loss at Marshall on Saturday.

North Dakota State captured the Summit League with the usual high-scoring efforts from senior guard Ben Woodside. He scored 32 points in an 89-79 victory at Centenary on Thursday and 29 points in a 75-72 win at Oral Roberts on Saturday.

FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: G Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas

Coming into the season, the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks knew they would need some youngsters to take center stage this season. Taylor gave Kansas just the boost it needed at the right time. With 13 points in his previous three games, Taylor doubled that in an 87-78 win at Oklahoma on Monday.

Then he helped Kansas keep the Big 12 lead Sunday with 15 points and six assists in a 90-65 rout of Missouri.

Also considered:

Washington State probably won't go to the NCAA tournament this season, but the Cougars saved some face last week by sweeping the Pac-10's Arizona schools. Guard Klay Thompson had 17 points and seven rebounds in a 51-49 overtime win over Arizona State on Saturday. He also had 16 points in a 69-53 victory over Arizona on Thursday.

Nevada forward Luke Babbitt had 21 points and nine rebounds in an 84-71 win over Utah State on Saturday. He also had 18 points and seven boards in a 68-66 loss at Fresno State on Thursday.

Murray State sealed the No. 3 seed in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament with three wins last week. Forward Ivan Aska led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds in a 74-59 win over UT-Martin on Monday. He added six points in a 69-64 win over Morehead State on Thursday before capping the week with 16 points and six boards in a 70-65 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.

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

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