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February 17, 2009

Lawson shoots back to top of power rankings

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

North Carolina guard Ty Lawson takes a shot at skeptics who suggest he doesn't have one.

"I think I'm a great shooter," Lawson said Sunday after a 69-65 victory over Miami. "That's one of my strengths. If somebody says [otherwise], that's crazy."

Lawson's shot is particularly accurate whenever he enters the Sunshine State. Less than three weeks after making a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Florida State, Lawson shot 5-for-7 in the second half of a 69-65 triumph at Miami.

His performances in victories at Duke and Miami have made him the new No. 1 point guard in the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Lawson had 25 points, five assists and four rebounds Wednesday in a 101-87 victory at Duke. He followed that up by shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point range Sunday at Miami. His performance against Miami continued Lawson's recent penchant for succeeding from long range. Lawson has made 49.4 percent of his 3-pointers this season and is 11-for-19 from beyond the arc in his past four games.

"Last year I thought he was a big-time shooter and just didn't look for it," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the Miami game. "So I've talked to him all season about not forgetting his outside shot."

Lawson replaced Wake Forest's Jeff Teague as the No. 1 point guard in the power rankings. Teague outperformed Lawson in Wake Forest's 92-89 victory over North Carolina on Jan. 11, but Lawson has played better recently.

UNC has reeled off nine consecutive victories since the loss to Wake. Lawson has averaged 17.8 points and 6.3 assists during that stretch. Lawson has three times as many assists as turnovers and has shot 61.6 percent overall and 57.6 percent from 3-point range in that span.

The only other change atop the power rankings came at shooting guard, where Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and Marquette's Jerel McNeal continued their season-long tug of war for the top spot.

Meeks regained the No. 1 position from McNeal after scoring 45 points Saturday to set a Bud Walton Arena single-game scoring record in a 79-63 victory at Arkansas. Meeks needed to have a big game against Arkansas because the Wildcats were playing without star power forward Patrick Patterson, who sat out with a sprained ankle.

Four days earlier, Meeks made an off-balance 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds remaining to give UK a 68-65 victory over Florida that ended a three-game losing streak. Meeks scored 23 points against the Gators and ranks fourth in the nation at 25.8 points per game.

"I've never seen anything like what he's done for us this year," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said after the Arkansas game. "It's not like we say, 'Jodie, shoot it every time.' He just makes stuff happen."

Arizona State small forward James Harden, Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin and Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet stayed atop their respective positions in their power rankings. Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans remained the No. 1 freshman, while Connecticut's Jim Calhoun continued to lead 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.

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

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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