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January 29, 2008

Love takes over top spot at center

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

Georgetown senior Roy Hibbert is in the middle of perhaps the best stretch in his career, having put together a series of solid performances for three consecutive weeks. Yet Hibbert actually dropped in Rivals.com's latest Power Rankings, falling to No. 2 among the centers.

The recent play of UCLA freshman Kevin Love, who replaced Hibbert at the top spot, explains why.

Love, a prep star at Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, dominated in his return to his home state last week. He combined for 42 points and 39 rebounds in UCLA's wins at Oregon (80-75) and Oregon State (85-62). That came after a career-high 27-point, 14-rebound performance in UCLA's 81-74 win over Washington State and an 18-point, 12-rebound outing in UCLA's 72-63 loss to USC.

That is perhaps the best four-game stretch Love averaged 21.8 points and 16.3 rebounds over that period we have seen from any player this season.

Freshmen now occupy three of the top five spots in the rankings. Indiana's Eric Gordon regained the No. 1 spot at shooting guard from Vanderbilt's Shan Foster, and Kansas State's Michael Beasley remained atop the power forwards for the ninth consecutive week.

Gordon's rise was aided largely by the struggles of Foster, who was held to seven points (12 below his season average) in the Commodores' 86-64 loss at Florida on Sunday.

Beasley broke the 30-point barrier for the seventh time, scoring 33 points and corralling 15 boards in the Wildcats' 82-57 rout of Iowa State.

Four players are making their debuts in the rankings: Baylor point guard Curtis Jerrells, Cincinnati shooting guard Deonta Vaughn, Georgetown small forward DaJuan Summers and Kansas' Darnell Jackson. Jerrells scored a career-high 36 points in the now-famous five-overtime victory over Texas A&M on Wednesday, leading Baylor to a thrilling 116-110 win.

In addition, two power forwards - Oklahoma's Blake Griffin and Wisconsin's Brian Butch - have returned to the rankings after short absences. Griffin, who was expected to miss two more weeks with a knee injury, powered Oklahoma to a 77-71 upset at Baylor on Saturday. He scored 17 points and grabbed 15 boards in just 22 minutes.

The rating 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. By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players and coaches were the best at their respective positions.

Rivals.com Power Rankings by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C | Head Coach

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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