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December 2, 2008
Holiday weeks are one of the few times during the non-conference schedule that top teams don't feast on turkeys.
While the rest of us are gorging on stuffed birds and mashed potatoes, they're taking trips all over the country to test themselves against high-level competition.
It's a treat almost as good as grandma's pumpkin pie.
So it stands to reason our Big Six Conference Player of the Week was the MVP of a tournament last week.
North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson was simply sensational in leading the Tar Heels to the title at the Maui Invitational and earn the tournament's top honor. In three games the junior averaged 16 points and 7.3 assists and shot a sizzling 70.8 percent (17 of 24). He had 22 assists and just two turnovers as the nation's top-ranked team routed Chaminade (115-70), Oregon (98-69) and even then-No. 8 Notre Dame (102-87).
Lawson was at his best in the finale against the Irish, playing a near-perfect game. He shot 7-for-10 from the field, made all seven of his free-throw attempts and added 11 assists and six rebounds.
"Lawson did a great job in transition and then we were digging out of a hole the whole game," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
Just for good measure Lawson added 22 points, eight assists and five steals in a victory Sunday over UNC Asheville.
? James Harden, F, Arizona State: The Sun Devils' scorer supreme was the MVP of the 76 Classic despite the fact his team didn't even make the final. He had 15 points and four rebounds in a win over Charlotte, 32 points and nine rebounds in a loss to Baylor, and 40 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the third-place game against UTEP, an ASU victory.
? Jeff Teague, G, Wake Forest: Teague's team won the 76 Classic and he was runner-up to Harden in the MVP voting. Teague had 24 points in a win over Cal State Fullerton and 29 points and six assists in a win over UTEP. He ended with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the final as the Demon Deacons took down Baylor, but Teague shot only 1-for-10 against the Bears.
? Jonny Flynn, G, Syracuse: The MVP of the CBE Classic had 18 points and four assists in a win over Florida and followed with 25 points and five assists in a win over Kansas in the final. He added 15 points and six assists in a win over Virginia late in the week.
Things looked bleak for Western Kentucky after a 28-point loss at Murray State on Nov. 22.
Eight days later the Hilltoppers had two huge victories under their belts, including the biggest upset of the season so far, a 68-54 thrashing of then-No. 3 Louisville on Sunday at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Sophomore swingman Steffphon Pettigrew led the way for WKU. He had 20 points and seven rebounds in a 79-70 victory over Southern Illinois that removed the taste of what happened against the Racers, and he followed with 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Cardinals.
The 6-5 Pettigrew more than held his own against five-star Cardinals freshman Samardo Samuels, who was limited to 11 points and eight rebounds.
"They probably just underestimated us because they are the No. 3 team in the country and we are Western Kentucky University," Pettigrew said. "Coach told us that we needed to go out there and throw the first punch and always keep our composure and that is what we did."
? Jeremy Pargo, G, Gonzaga: Pargo was the MVP of the Old Spice Classic for his heady play. He averaged 12 points and had 17 assists and just five turnovers in wins over Oklahoma State, Maryland and Tennessee.
Al-Farouq Aminu, part of a ballyhooed class at Wake Forest, helped the Demon Deacons to the title at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., last week. He averaged 14 points and nine rebounds, including his third double-double of the season (13 points, 12 rebounds) in the win over Baylor in the title game. Aminu shot 60 percent for the week. He has had at least seven rebounds in each of Wake's games this season and has scored in double digits in five of them.
? Greg Monroe, C, Georgetown: The former five-star prospect shot 65 percent (13 of 20) at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. He scored in double figures in all three of the Hoyas' games as they went 2-1.
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.