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January 2, 2008
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."
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.