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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News - College hoops roundup: Rose in bloom for Memphis

College hoops roundup: Rose in bloom for Memphis
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Posted: December 24, 2007

Hustling along the road to March: The Holiday Edition:

Player of the week: Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose showed why he is the best pro prospect in college basketball -- and, more important, why the Tigers have a serious shot at winning their first NCAA basketball championship. On a night when many of his teammates appeared disinterested in their visit to Cincinnati, Rose dazzled with 26 points and six assists in a too-close 79-69 victory.

When Georgetown showed up at the FedEx Forum three days later and every one of his teammates came to play, Rose still was in command of the team and delivered 18 points and six assists in a too-much 85-71 Memphis win. For a guy whose college experience now consists of nine games, it is amazing how cool he is on the court.

Team of the week: Andy Kennedy's Ole Miss Rebels left for Puerto Rico as one of the few unbeaten teams that couldn't crack the AP poll. Well, voters, how do you like them now? Ole Miss swept three games in the San Juan Shootout, including what must have been a thrilling showdown with then-unbeaten Clemson. (If that game was on TV somewhere, I couldn't find it). The Rebels took out La Salle and DePaul on the two prior days and now stand 11-0. They've got only two games remaining before opening the SEC -- home games against Southern Mississippi and Alabama A&M.

Player to watch this week: Redshirt freshman Gilbert Brown is the likely successor to Pitt small forward Mike Cook, who was lost for the year with a knee injury in the Panthers' big comeback win against Duke. Brown is an extraordinary athlete who can give his team a new dimension, though he can't be expected to have the same level of creative ability as Cook. Brown will face his first full test in an 8 p.m. Saturday road game at Dayton.

Game to watch this week: Having crisscrossed the country for games in Philadelphia, Boston and Oklahoma City, Gonzaga doesn't have to travel too far for the next big one: across the state to Seattle's Key Arena for a meeting with Tennessee. The Vols regained a little bit of their swagger with a victory at Xavier and might find some success attacking the Bulldogs' ballhandlers. But the Zags will field a powerful frontcourt now that Josh Heytvelt is back from injury.

My top 10, based on achievement: 1. Memphis; 2. North Carolina; 3. Kansas; 4. Pitt; 5. Miami; 6. Washington State; 7. Ole Miss; 8. Vanderbilt. 9 (tie). Texas, Michigan State, UCLA; 10. Duke.

That'll leave a mark: Appalachian State 74, Arkansas 67.

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