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January 2, 2008

Nelson does it all for Boise State

There wasn't anything middling about the way several mid-major teams played last week.

Just ask the likes of Pittsburgh and Miami, who got unceremoniously dumped from the ranks of the unbeaten by Dayton and Winthrop, respectively. Another undefeated team, Vanderbilt, had its hands full with lowly Tennessee-Martin. Boise State knocked off No. 20 BYU.

All of these teams had worthy nominees for Rivals.com's Mid-Major Player of the Week. Flyers guard Brian Roberts tied his season high with 31 points in the 80-55 upset of the Panthers. Eagles guard Chris Gaynor had 21 points in the 76-70 upset of the Hurricanes. UT-Martin guard Lester Hudson had 36 points in a 92-85 loss to the Commodores, including seven 3-pointers, nine rebounds and six assists.

But Boise State senior forward Matt Nelson gets the nod. Not only did he make all seven of his shots and score 18 points, but he added 11 rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 34 minutes. He also led the Broncos' defensive effort against Cougars center Trent Plaisted, who was held to 12 points - five below his season average - on 4-for-11 shooting.

"Nellie is a competitor," Boise State coach Greg Graham said. "I'm sure he thought about this for a while, and I thought he did a great job on him (Plaisted)."

Plaisted, a 6-11 junior, has been climbing NBA Draft boards since back-to-back games with Louisville and North Carolina in which he averaged 22.5 ppg and 14.5 rpg. But the 6-9 Nelson made him work for everything.

"I'd like to take credit for it, but it was definitely a team effort," Nelson said. "I was pretty excited to go against him. I don't know if the NBA is in my future, but it's always cool to go against guys who will probably end up there and see where you stand."

OTHER NOMINEES FOR MID-MAJOR OF THE WEEK:
G Brian Roberts, Dayton
Roberts had 31 points, five assists and just one turnover as the Flyers whipped Pittsburgh.
G Lester Hudson, Tennessee-Martin
The junior college transfer showed Vanderbilt why he's the nation's second-leading scorer, riddling the Commodores for 36 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
G Chris Gaynor, Winthrop
He helped the Eagles shoot down Miami with 21 points, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range.

Brian Butch,
F, Wisconsin
Entering Saturday's matchup at then-No. 9 Texas, the Badgers weren't expected to challenge the red-hot Longhorns. Wisconsin had lost to the only other ranked teams they had played this season, including the second-worst loss of Bo Ryan's career - at the hands of Duke.

Friday night before the game, the news got worse. Leading scorer Trevon Hughes suffered a sprained ankle that would keep him out of the lineup.

But Butch, a 6-11 senior, put the Badgers on his back. His 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists propelled UW to a major surprise, a 67-66 triumph over the Longhorns.

OTHER NOMINEES:
F Paul Harris, Syracuse
One of the nation's little-known stat-sheet stuffers, Harris kept pencils at the scorer's table at the ready on Sunday against Northeastern. The super sophomore had 19 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and four steals in the Orange's 95-74 victory. It was his seventh double-double this season.

J.J. Hickson,
F, N.C. State
Hickson is now a two-time winner of Rivals' freshman honor.

The 6-9 power forward had another outstanding week, lifting the Wolfpack to a pair of victories by shooting not a typo 93.8 percent from the field. He made all five of his shots and scored 13 points with 10 rebounds in a victory over Seton Hall on Thursday, and followed that with a career-high 33 points on 10 of 11 shooting against Western Carolina on Saturday. He also had 13 rebounds and three blocks as NC State prevailed 74-62.

He ranks among the top 10 nationally in field-goal percentage at 71.4 percent, and he and North Carolina All-American Tyler Hansbrough are the only players who rank in the top five in the ACC in scoring and rebounding.

OTHER NOMINEES:
F Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Griffin had 18 points and 16 rebounds to help the Sooners knock off West Virginia on the road on Saturday. It was his fifth double-double, including second in a row.
F Dar Tucker, DePaul
Tucker had 18 points, a team-high seven rebounds, three assists and two steals to help the Blue Demons win at Detroit.

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



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