After Weber State's Damian Lillard scored 36 points to tie a career high against Saint Mary's last week, Gaels coach Randy Bennett could only laugh as he joked his team did a good job by holding the star guard to under 40 points.
Lillard became the nation's scoring leader after that performance, and in his next outing, San Jose State couldn't stop him from pouring in 41 points in a double-overtime win for Weber State.
Jimmer Fredette won college basketball's scoring title last season, and now in the driver's seat to win it is another player in the state of Utah. This one doesn't get nearly as much recognition.
Lillard after winning the Big Sky MVP as a sophomore was sidelined for much of the season as a junior with a season-ending foot injury that forced a medical redshirt.
Lillard spent the time not only recovering from the injury, but getting better, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Yet if running and jumping were out, lifting weights and watching videotapes were in. Lillard spent four or five days a week in the weight room and considerable time in the film room, studying all 71 games he had played for the Wildcats. The results are noticeable.
Besides Lillard’s becoming much stronger, "His basketball IQ has increased dramatically," said senior forward Kyle Bullinger.
So now that Lillard is averaging 28.2 points per game, Weber State is off to a 5-1 start, and the second coming of Harold Arceneaux has arrived in Ogden, Lillard knows not to let any of this get to his head.
"When your teammates are in your ear, it's great that they have trust and confidence in me," Lillard told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I don't want the 41 points to overshadow the small things."
"He scored tonight, but he's more than that," Bennett, who recruited Lillard coming out of high school in Oakland, told reporters after the Saint Mary's game. "He can pass, too. He can make plays for others. He can find open guys. He knows the looks, the rolls, the throwbacks. He's a good player, a really good player.