Sean Williams makes one thing clear -- "I love to challenge anyone that comes in the paint," said Boston College's shot-blocking machine of a center who stands 6-foot-10 and has a 7-foot-9 wingspan.
Just ask Duquesne, against whom Williams had 13 blocks -- one off the Division I record shared by David Robinson, Shawn Bradley, Roy Rogers and Loren Woods -- or Providence after Williams had 12 blocks against the Friars. They were the kind of games in which even the 6-10 junior center was stunned by his propensity for rejection.
"When I'm blocking shots, I'm not really thinking about it [but] sometimes when you have games like that you go, 'Man, I blocked quite a few tonight,'" he said.
It's a sentiment Williams has been able to mutter on more than one occasion this season. Through 14 games he has 72 blocks, averaging 5.1 per game (third in the nation behind Massachusetts' Stephane Lasme and Alabama A&M's Mickell Gladness, who are both averaging 5.4 pg), and he has had three or more rejections 12 times this year.
While Williams has been blocking in bulk, it hasn't always translated into success for the Eagles. They lost both his 13- and 12-block games, giving up 16 offensive boards to the Dukes and 19 to Providence, which could be due to Williams' approach to blocking, which can leave him out of position to get a defensive boards (he's grabbing 4.6 a game).
"I feel like if I can go get, I'll go get it," Williams said. "If I don't, I try to go box out my man. If it's there and I can go get it, I'm going after it."
He took the same approach to solidifying his role as the Eagles' starting big man and has seen his playing time (32.9 minutes a game), points (12.3), rebounds (7.1), free-throw percentage (68.4) and blocks all rise to career highs.
Williams' rise has come a year later than many expected. The Houston product seemed destined to grab a starting spot as a sophomore, though it didn't work out as planned. Before last season began he was arrested for underage drinking and marijuana possession and was suspended for the first semester. Williams missed the first nine games and was unable to capture the starting spot while working his way back, averaging 3.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 17.3 minutes a game.
"Last year, with the situation that went down, [coach Al] Skinner told me when I came back I wasn't going to start and he was just like 'Make the best out of it,'" Williams said. "That's what I tried to do. I knew coming in this year there was going to be a big opportunity for me, so I put a lot of work into the summer."
That work included a spot in the invitation-only Michael Jordan Flight School in Santa Barbara, where Williams went up against the likes of Arizona's Chase Budinger, Alabama's Jermario Davidson and Ronald Steele, Indiana's D.J. White, Kansas' Julian White and O.J. Mayo, who has committed to USC.
So how did Williams hold up against some of the nation's best?
"Man, they know who Sean Williams is ... all of them," he said.
Williams is now working on the rest of the nation. He had 19 points, tying a career high, seven rebounds and three blocks as the Eagles beat Virginia 78-73 on Saturday for their fifth straight win.
Note to the rest of the ACC: Stay away from Virginia Tech. The Hokies win over Duke may have looked like a prime example of everything that has been ailing the Blue Devils, but Tech followed up that overtime win by knocking off No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday. "If you don't get jacked up for Carolina and Duke, you need to quit and go be a ballerina or something," guard Zabian Gordon said. "We came out hard. No reason to be scared." In the two wins, Dowdell had 43 points, and nine steals, while Jamon Gordon totaled 34 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and eight steals. So here's the real question: Are the Hokies for real? They have questionable losses to Western Michigan and Marshall, but are one of only two teams without a loss in ACC play (the other is Boston College) and have the look of a squad that could well make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996.
Ups & Downs
Anthony Goods and Stanford now own the Evergreen state. The Cardinal beat both of Washington's ranked teams, edging the Huskies 78-77 and Washington State 71-68 as Good combined for 49 points in the wins.
And then there were none. Clemson, the nation's last unbeaten, suffered its first loss, falling to Maryland. After holding opponents to an average of 61 points per game, the Tigers gave up 92 in the loss at College Park.
Wisconsin ended its recent Welsh-Ryan Arena frustrations, edging Penn State 56-50 for its 13th straight win and its first Big Ten road victory, despite 15 turnovers.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Suddenly John Beilein's boys are reeling. Four days after Notre Dame snapped its eight-game winning streak, Marquette led by as many as 21 in beating West Virginia 81-63 as it shot 5-for-22 from three-point range.
The Ducks have been feasting on top-10 teams, edging No. 10 Arizona 79-77 on Sunday behind 21 points from Aaron Brooks. The win comes just eight days after Oregon beat previously top-ranked UCLA.
The last time Cincinnati lost four straight, coach Rich Cronin was just learning how to drive. UC fell to South Florida, marking its first four-game skid in 19 years and ending a run of 15 wins in 16 games vs. USF.
They Said It
"After he hit that shot, I felt like Adam Morrision in the [NCAA tournament] I wanted to just stand there and cry."
--USC's Nick Young after UCLA's Arron Afflalo nailed a game-winning 15-foot jumper with 4.7 seconds left to lift the Bruins to a 65-64 win over the Trojans 65-64 on Saturday.
"Humpty set the tone. When Humpty hits the shot to start the game, there's nothing better than that."
--Florida forward Joakim Noah on guard Lee "Humpty" Humphrey, who had a career-high 27 points, including seven threes, in a win over South Carolina, the Gators ninth straight.
"They just whipped us and made us like it. They outplayed us, outcoached us, out every-thinged us. We didn't deserve to win. We got whipped."
--Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie on the Aggies' 87-69 win over Colorado. The Buffaloes became the first team to score more than 65 against A&M, which was allowing 52.7 ppg.
Big Men On Campus
Greg OdenC - Ohio State
Old man Oden had his most dominant game yet with 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks as Ohio State beat Tennessee 68-66. "He's got a chance to be Bill Russell at 7-foot," Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl said.
Reggie WilliamsF - Virginia Military Academy
Nobody scores like the Keydets and their nation-high 101.5 points a game, and VMI's biggest weapon is Williams, who had 37 points and 10 rebounds in a 116-83 win over Charleston Southern. It was Williams' eighth game of 30 or more points.
Marcelus KempG - Nevada
No Nick Fazekas, no ... well, it is an enormous problem for the Wolf Pack, but they're staying alive behind the likes of Kemp, who had 21 of his career-high 33 points in the first half as Nevada downed San Jose State, 72-63, on Thursday.
Georgetown lost 74-69 to Pitt, marking the first time in John Thompson III's coaching tenure that they had lost a game when scoring 69 or more points, a run of 27 games.
New Hampshire scored just 29 points in a loss to Boston University, it's lowest total in 14 years, while Rutgers had 37 in falling to Depaul for its lowest-scoring game of the shot-clock era.
Saturday's postponement of the Oklahoma State-Nebraska game because of an ice storm that stopped OSU from leaving Oklahoma City was the first in the Big 12's 10-year history.
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