The Monday Awards
Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Awards, where O.J. Mayo is trying to get Michael Jordan to come to USC for His Airness' final year of college eligibility and, upon further review, picking Jackson State to win it all was a poor choice.
It's not right to have to choose between Florida and Tennessee. The only fair move is to name 'em Co-Teams of the Week. First up is your back-to-back national champion Florida Gators, who knocked off Ohio State on Monday. In typical Florida fashion, the team had equal production from all of its big-name juniors. Al Horford had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Taurean Green scored 16, Corey Brewer had 13, and Joakim Noah had 8 in an 84-75 win. Sharpshooting senior Lee Humphrey added 14 with four of his patented threes. The Gators' biggest accomplishment, however, might be holding Greg Oden to 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Just like Florida had to overcome Oden's big game, Tennessee had to do the same with Rutgers' Kia Vaughn. Vaughn scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and picked up three steals, but she was just about the only Scarlet Knight player that was efficient offensively. Then again, the Lady Vols weren't very solid from the field either. The difference was offensive rebounds and free throws, as Nicky Anosike picked up 10 of her team's 23 offensive boards, and the Lady Vols hit 14 free throws to Rutgers' 4. Tennessee coasted to a 59-46 victory, ending Pat Summitt's nine-year drought of going home without cutting down a net.
Travis Jones, 2B, South Carolina. Jones was batting .250 before the start of April, but that's now a distant memory. Following his team's 4-0 week, Jones' batting average has jumped to .316. Between one game against Furman and three more against SEC East rival Florida, Jones was 11 for 15 with 5 home runs, knocked in 13 runs, and scored 9. The Gamecocks currently sit at 26-7 overall and third in the conference at 7-5.
Justin Abdelkader, Michigan State. Maybe two is the magic number for Abdelkader. It took Kenny Mayne two tries to pronounce his name correctly, and it took two shots for Abdelkader to give MSU the lead in the Frozen Four championship game. Tied at one with a minute to go, Boston College gave it one last try to take the lead, but the tables quickly turned. The Spartans picked up a 3-on-1 after a poke check, and the shot was left to Abdelkader with 30 seconds left. Abdelkader's shot nicked the crossbar, but the Eagles couldn't clear it out, however, and it ended up behind the net with 20 seconds left. With a man on him, MSU's Tim Kennedy spun back to his right and made a perfect pass to Abdelkader. Abdelkader then made a difficult shot in traffic, giving the Spartans a 2-1 edge. The goal was the eventual game-winner, and with a 3-1 victory, MSU notched their first hockey championship since 1986.
CLICK BELOW FOR THE SEASON'S FIVE BEST BASKETBALL GAMES
5) March 15th: Xavier 79, BYU 77
This game featured 11 ties and several lead changes, as it was one of the only bright spots in an otherwise dull first round. Drew Lavender scored 17 points, 15 in the second half, as Xavier would move on to the next round, nearly beating Ohio State in the process.
4) March 22nd: Ohio State 85, Tennessee 84
For the second straight game, Ohio State faced a deficit during the second half, and for the second straight time, the Buckeyes narrowly managed to pull out a win. Despite trailing by 17 at halftime, Ohio State turned on the jets and shot 58.3% in the second half. It took the entire first half for the Buckeyes to score 32 points, but it only took 11 ½ minutes to reach another 32. The Vols did their best to stick around, but it was obvious that Ohio State had the upper hand. Ramar Smith had the chance to send Tennessee to the next round, but Oden was all over it, smacking the ball right back where it came from.
3) February 3rd: Texas A&M 69, Kansas 66
Road wins at Allen Fieldhouse are as rare as watchable episodes of Fox's Bones. With four minutes left in the game, Acie Law decided the losing streak against the Jayhawks had to end. Texas A&M was down 62-56 when Law would go on to score 10 of the team's next 13 points, including the eventual game-winning three in Brandon Rush's face.
2) February 28th: Texas 98, Texas A&M 96 (2 OT)
As the game progressed it became more of a 1-on-1 than a 5-on-5. Two future NBA players in Texas' Kevin Durant and A&M's Acie Law put on a display, hitting big shot after big shot. Even though the Longhorns would emerge victorious, the Aggies' Law was spectacular in a 10-minute stretch through double overtime. When Durant and his teammates would pick up a basket or hit free throws, Law would run the ball right back down the court and hit a big shot. Acie tied the game at 69, took the lead at 71 and 72, and hit a big three with two seconds left to tie the game at 78. And because one overtime wasn't enough, Law hit another clutch three with 26 seconds left in the extra period to tie the game at 88. Though he ran out of juice in the second overtime, Law left everything on the court. He finished with 33 points and 5 assists, while Durant finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds.
1) January 16th: Oklahoma State 105, Texas 103 (3 OT)
Three months ago this game made some believers in Durant as a player and Oklahoma State as a team. While Oklahoma State couldn't maintain the performance of a 16-2 team, this game still reigns as the best of the year. The Cowboys kept pulling ahead of the Longhorns, but Durant kept his team in the game by hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. The freshman would go on to score 37, but OSU's Mario Boggan was right there with him. Boggan scored 37 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, and turned an awkward-looking sequence into a big game-winner. The 6-7 power forward caught a half-court pass with 10 seconds left, dribbled behind his back, made a spin move, edged himself toward the three-point line, and hoisted up a leaner that hit nothing but net.
3. Glen Davis, LSU
Give Davis some credit, because he was put on the spot here, but it's hardly a surprise that he declared for the draft just a few months after being interviewed. Matt Waxman and Jake Osterhout of CSTV's Hoops Odyssey caught up with Big Baby during their trip to LSU, and asked him why he should stay. Davis gave reasons such as "it's a great place to be" and "you grow up and become a better person," but apparently those weren't very convincing.
2. Kevin Durant, Texas
Durant's father claimed that it wasn't a given that his son would make the jump to the next level. Then again, that comment was made before it was revealed that Nike could be willing to offer up to $50 million to the college player of the year. When USC knocked out Texas, it was "too soon" for Durant to know for sure if he'd enter the draft or not. But now with eight digits on the table, perhaps now his decision will be a tiny bit easier.
1. Brandan Wright, North Carolina
Andy Katz reported that Wright, following the Tar Heels' loss to Georgetown, said "We'll definitely be ready for next year." Wright would later backtrack, claiming he "wasn't in a position to talk about the future" and that he'd have meetings with Roy Williams to discuss his next move. The freshman is projected to go right behind Durant and Oden in this year's NBA draft, so perhaps "we" is an elastic pronoun that doesn't actually have to include Wright at all.
Think a team or player is deserving of an award next week? Have a stat of the week? Disagree with the way things stack up? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org