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November 25, 2008

Griffin proves hard to keep off the boards

So far, the undersized front line at American University has done the best job of keeping Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin off the boards.

Yep, the Eagles held the 6-foot-10 sophomore to only 18 rebounds in the season opener on Nov. 14. In three games last week Griffin averaged 20.3 rebounds. His low was 19 rebounds against Mississippi Valley State.

Griffin is the Rivals.com Big Six Conference Player of the Week after leading the Sooners to three wins and averaging 26.7 points and 3.3 steals to go with his monster rebounding totals. He also shot 72.5 percent (29 of 40).

The week started with 20 points, 19 rebounds and six steals against the Delta Devils in a 94-53 triumph. Griffin followed with 25 points and a career-high 21 rebounds in an 82-78 victory over Davidson, and he closed the week with a career-high 35 points, 21 rebounds, a career-high five assists and three steals in an unexpectedly narrow 80-76 win over Gardner-Webb.

"Today's game came down to too much Blake Griffin on the court," Runnin' Bulldogs coach Rick Scruggs said. "We just couldn't handle him and didn't have anybody that could match up with him."

Really, coach, who does?

Also considered:

Missouri forward DeMarre Carroll, a Vanderbilt transfer, led the Tigers to a 3-1 mark. He averaged 20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds, and he shot 62.3 percent (33 of 53). He had 29 points, 11 rebounds and three steals in an 83-72 victory over then-No. 19 USC.

Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell averaged 23.3 points as the Pirates went 2-1 with big wins over USC and Virginia Tech. He had 32 points in a loss to Memphis.

Freshman of the Week: F Greg Monroe, Georgetown

So far so good for the five-star prospect for the Hoyas. Through two games he leads the team in scoring (17.5 ppg) rebounding (7.5 rpg), field-goal percentage (68.4) and blocked shots (3.0 bpg), and that was good enough to edge two other Big East newcomers for freshman of the week.

In an 81-53 drubbing of Drexel, the 6-11 Monroe had 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, three blocks and just one turnover in 31 minutes.

"Greg is an unselfish player," coach John Thompson III said. "He does a good job of making decisions on when it's his turn and when it's his teammates' turn."

Also considered:

Connecticut guard Kemba Walker averaged 18.3 points and shot 56.3 percent (18 of 32) as the Huskies went 3-0. He had 21 points against Hartford, 23 against La Salle and 11 against Miami.

Louisville forward Samardo Samuels averaged 21.0 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Cardinals blew out Morehead State and South Alabama. He shot a sizzling 77.3 percent (17 of 22).

Non-Big Six Player of the Week: G Stephen Curry, Davidson

It's possible this award could be retired by Curry by January.

But considering he averaged 35.3 points and 8.3 assists and 44 of his points came against a top-25 team in Oklahoma, he can't be ignored.

"That's certainly one of the best performances I've ever seen," Sooners coach Jeff Capel said.

Curry's transition to point guard this season also seems to be going well given his assist totals. He had 30 points and 13 assists in a 97-70 victory over Winthrop.

Also considered:

Kent State guard Al Fisher averaged 22.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting 54.2 percent from the field to lead the Golden Flashes to their first 3-0 start since 2003-04. He dropped 35 points on St. Louis, including the winning basket in the final seconds.

UAB swingman Robert Vaden had three 20-point games last week as the Blazers went 3-0, including 28 points (eight 3-pointers) and six rebounds in a 77-62 win at Old Dominion.

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

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