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December 20, 2007

Agudio keeps scoring despite team struggles

For the past three seasons Hofstra has had one of the best backcourt trios in the nation. In fact, Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio and Carlos Rivera were the highest-scoring guard trio in the country last season.

Stokes (20.6 points per game) and Rivera (13.3 points) were seniors, though, leaving Agudio to carry the load for the Pride, which is coming off three consecutive 20-win seasons.

Agudio has done an admirable job in the scoring department, but Hofstra has struggled out of the gate with three freshmen in the starting lineup alongside him. Agudio, a 6-foot-3 senior, leads the nation in scoring (27.4 points per game), but the Pride sits at just 2-5 with a difficult game at Rhode Island (10-1) on Saturday.

"It's great to lead the nation in scoring, and it shows how far I've come," Agudio told Rivals.com. "As far as our record, I have to take some responsibility for that. I have to be a better leader. We should be 5-2 or maybe even 6-1."

Hofstra's past four losses are by a combined total of 12 points. But the Pride did beat a good Charlotte team 70-68 in its last outing. Agudio was at his best against the 49ers, ringing up 30 points on 10 of 15 shooting (including 6-of-6 from 3-point range), 10 rebounds and five assists.

Agudio also leads the nation in minutes per game. He's averaging 39.9, and he has played all 40 in three consecutive games.

"I don't mind it," Agudio said. "I love playing the game, and I'm in great shape. My team needs me to be out there."

Hofstra's second- and third-leading scorers are freshmen Charles Jenkins (12.1 points) and Nathaniel Lester (8.6 points). With Agudio, they form coach Tom Pecora's next tireless trio.

"A lot of people are throwing different looks at me, focusing on stopping me," Agudio said. "I tell the young guys to step up and look for shots. They don't have to rely on me.

"Charles and Nathaniel are two guys who are coming along. They're going to be good players here."

In the meantime, no rest for the weary. Not that 0.1 mpg is much of a rest.

BEASLEY SPEAKS

Kansas State freshman forward Michael Beasley was allowed to speak for the first time all season at a news conference on Sunday. First-year coach Frank Martin had kept Wildcats freshmen off-limits because he said as first-year players they weren't ready to speak for the program.

Whatever. Before this season, Beasley had more experience in front of reporters than Martin did.

Here are some of Beasley's gems, just so you can get an idea what we've been deprived of:

• On his pal Kevin Durant: "I talk to Kevin like three times, four times a week, pretty much every day. We don't talk about basketball. It's not important to us. We talk about dumb stuff like SpongeBob or something."

• On whether he can continue to lead the nation in rebounding: "I plan to do what I have to do to get a win for Kansas State. If I have to rebound, I'm going to rebound. If I have to score, I'm going to score. If I have to sit on the end of the bench with a towel over my head, that's what I'm going to do."

• On what he thinks about NBA draft projections: "I don't think very much of it. It's a prediction like Miss Cleo. Do you know Miss Cleo? She's locked up now for making predictions. People think what they're going to think. Basically I just laugh. I'm just a small-time guy from D.C. I don't need much in this world but a bowl of macaroni and cheese."

There are plenty of college basketball players who should be kept from the media. Beasley clearly is not one of them.

And somewhere, someone from Kraft is drawing up an endorsement contract.

Bob McClellan's Pick Six

Each week basketball editor Bob McClellan will pick six things to watch for over the weekend:

1. Georgetown at Memphis, Saturday. A matchup of contrasting styles. The Tigers want to run (80.1 points per game), but the Hoyas don't let you (No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, yielding 52 points per game). Whoever dictates the tempo will remain undefeated (noon EST, ESPN).

2. Texas vs. Michigan State, Saturday. Top 10 teams meet at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the "Spartan Clash." The Longhorns (10-0) had a tussle with Oral Roberts in their last outing, prevailing 66-56. The Spartans (9-1) have lost only to UCLA, which Texas beat. No one in the country has played better to date than Longhorns point guard D.J. Augustin (6:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2).

3. Ole Miss at the San Juan Shootout. The Rebels (8-0) are one of the nation's biggest surprises. They'll step up in competition in Puerto Rico with games on consecutive days against DePaul, LaSalle and fellow unbeaten Clemson (8-0) starting Thursday. The Rebels and Tigers should both be carrying 10-0 records when they meet Saturday.

4. Xavier's "bounce back" game. The Musketeers (8-2) got whacked 77-55 at Arizona State in their last game and promptly fell out of the top 25. They return to action this Saturday, and the opponent is such that a win would put XU right back into the top 25. But it won't be easy against Tennessee (10-1). Considering the preferred tempo of these teams think an 8-year-old after a Super Big Gulp of Mountain Dew it should be a treat to watch (2 p.m. EST, ESPN).

5. Courtney Lee vs. Southern Illinois. Western Kentucky's Lee averages 21 points per game. The Salukis don't allow a lot of points. Only two players have topped Lee's scoring average against them this season, Charlotte's Leemire Goldwire and Indiana's Eric Gordon. Lee took a season-low nine shots in the Hilltoppers' blowout of North Carolina Central on Tuesday. He'll have to shoot a lot more than that for WKU to take down SIU.

6. Roger Reid vs. BYU. This Friday night game will fly under the radar everywhere except Utah. Reid, the first-year Southern Utah coach, will take the Thunderbirds (2-8) into Provo to take on the Cougars (9-2) after spending 19 seasons on the BYU bench, the last seven-plus (1989-96) as coach. His tenure included a 152-76 record, six consecutive 20-win seasons and three WAC regular-season titles, but it didn't end on happy terms. He was fired shortly into his eighth season with the team 1-6. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City wrote: "(The) BYU administration was very vague with its reasons for firing Reid, although it tried to use declining attendance, his poor start in 1996-97, playing his two sons, Randy and Robbie, and his comments concerning recruit Chris Burgess letting down nine million Mormons if he didn't choose to attend BYU." Burgess, a Californian, went to Duke before transferring to Utah.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.



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