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March 10, 2009
Although he wasn't expected to play Sunday against Duke, Lawson nearly recorded a triple-double while leading North Carolina to a 79-71 victory over the Blue Devils. The gutty performance helped Lawson regain his status as the No. 1 point guard in the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.
Lawson recorded 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds against the Blue Devils just two days after injuring the big toe on his right foot in practice.
"I did not know until I came over here today if he would be ready to play," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the game. "He banged his toe big-time on Friday. [Saturday] he tried to jog up and down the floor, and that's all he could do. If we had played this game [Saturday], he would not have played at all."
Lawson was at his best in the game's biggest moments.
After Duke had cut the Tar Heels' lead to 70-68, Lawson found Danny Green for a 3-point basket that gave North Carolina breathing room with 3:13 left in the game. Lawson also converted a three-point play to give the Tar Heels a seven-point advantage with 1:03 remaining.
"Ty stepped up and showed some toughness by even playing," North Carolina big man Tyler Hansbrough said. "I think everybody kind of knows that. He came through in the clutch when we needed him. And he wasn't 100 percent, but you know, when the time was called for him to step up and make big plays, he did."
Lawson regained the No. 1 spot from Davidson's Stephen Curry, who had replaced the North Carolina junior atop the rankings last week. Curry scored 43 points Saturday in a Southern Conference tournament quarterfinal victory over Appalachian State, but he shot just 5-for-18 Saturday in a semifinal loss to College of Charleston.
The other change atop the power rankings comes at the small forward position.
Pittsburgh's Sam Young moved ahead of Duke's Gerald Henderson on the strength of his brilliant performance Saturday in a 70-60 victory over Connecticut, the nation's top-ranked team at the time. In the final home game of his career, Young collected 31 points and 10 rebounds.
Young also compiled 18 points and eight rebounds Wednesday in a 90-75 triumph over Marquette.
"Sam Young is something special," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "We've seen him twice, and there hasn't ever been a player that gives us as many problems as he does. He's quick, he fakes and he has a great feel for the game."
Kentucky shooting guard Jodie Meeks and Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin remained atop their respective positions in the power rankings. Hansbrough earned a second straight week as the No. 1 center, while Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans continued to lead the freshman rankings. Kansas' Bill Self remains atop the coach rankings.
This week's edition of the power rankings takes into account all games through Sunday.
The power rankings of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.