Monday, January 15, 2007

College Hoops

Player of the week: Kevin Durant. The Texas freshman forward scored 34 points and had 13 boards against Missouri and then followed it up with 28 points and 13 rebounds in a victory over Oklahoma. Everyone knows that he's the guy you have to stop on a young Longhorns team, yet teams just haven't been able to slow Durant down.

Caracter issue: Louisville freshman Derrick Caracter may as well just pack his bags now, because the relationship between Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and the freshman just isn't going to work. Caracter has sat the last two games after getting 17 minutes at Notre Dame. Caracter has played in just seven games this season and averaged nearly as many fouls per game (3.1) as rebounds (4.1).


Oden coming on strong: Ohio State freshman Greg Oden scored a career-high 24 points and had 15 boards against Tennessee. He also played a career-high 36 minutes. Just watch as the 7-footer starts to get 100 percent and turns into the country's most dominant big man down the stretch.

Six pack on tap

1. Arizona at UCLA, Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. It's always a war when these two teams get together. The Wildcats have struggled of late, but this could still go a long way to decide who is the top team in the Pac-10.

2. Texas at Oklahoma State, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. Kevin Durant will get his first difficult test when he leads his young Longhorns into Stillwater for a matchup against Oklahoma State and Mario Boggan.

3. Georgia Tech at North Carolina, Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Paul Hewitt's youthful Yellow Jackets, who have started to put it together, will travel to Chapel Hill for a matchup against the nation's deepest and most talented team.

4. Wisconsin at Illinois, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The Illini may not be as good as they've been in the last few years, but it's still difficult to go into Champaign. The Badgers will be tested against Bruce Weber's club.

5. LSU at Arkansas, Saturday at 2:45 p.m. ET. Glen Davis and the Tigers will have their work cut out for them going on the road against an enigmatic, but talented Razorbacks team.

6. Nevada at New Mexico State, Saturday at 9:05 ET. Nick Fazekas had better get healthy quick, because he'll be running quite a bit against Reggie Theus' Aggies.


There's no more denying this fact: Kevin Durant may be the best player in the country. He is a serious national player of the year candidate and looks like the runaway winner of the freshman of the year award.

Durant had another stellar week, averaging 31 points, 13 boards, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in Texas' two wins at home over Missouri and Oklahoma. He became the first Big 12 freshman to post back-to-back 30-point-plus games (37 at Colorado and 34 against Missouri). He is tearing up Big 12 records, averaging 33 points and 14 rebounds in his first three conference games, while shooting 61.1 percent from the field, 50 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line in league play.

Overall, Durant leads the Longhorns with 23.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, and also has a team-best 29 blocks. His averages lead the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding and he's sixth nationally in both categories -- the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in both.
Durant is a big-time talent and easily is the most impressive impact talent to come through college in a few years (yes, he's even putting up more consistent numbers than Ohio State's Greg Oden). And if Oden decides to stay in college for next season (not a shock if he does), expect Durant to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June.

Before then, though, Durant could have a major say in leading Texas deep in the NCAA Tournament. His makes scoring look so easy at times, but he's clearly working his tail off to become a major talent.

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