Kansas forward Thomas Robinson still sits atop my Wooden Award ballot. But this time, the decision wasn’t as easy.
A banner week by West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, along with continued steady play by Creighton’s Doug McDermott, has tightened up the race. As the weeks progress, Robinson will find out that staying at the top is just as hard as getting there.
Here’s how I’d vote if the ballot were due today:
Thomas Robinson, Kansas -- The Jayhawks’ star forward clicked the “ON” switch in the second half of the KU's 64-54 come-from-behind victory over Texas A&M. Robinson scored 16 of his 18 points after intermission to help his team remain unbeaten in conference play. Two days earlier Robinson had 17 points in a win at Texas.
Kevin Jones, West Virginia -- Jones averaged 25.5 points and 10 rebounds in victories over Marshall and Cincinnati last week. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Jones has scored at least 22 points in each of his past five games and is averaging 20.7 points and 11.5 boards on the season. And he’s doing it against top-tier competition.
Doug McDermott, Creighton -- With 15 points against Missouri State and 12 against Indiana State, McDermott had a mediocre week by McDermott standards. The Bluejays, though, won each game, which is all that matters to the 6-foot-7 sophomore. Considering the double- and triple-teams he faces, it’s amazing that McDermott averages 23.2 points.
Anthony Davis, Kentucky -- No player in college basketball dominates on the defensive end quite like Davis, who leads the nation with 4.7 blocks per game. Davis also averages a team-high 10.3 rebounds, and his offensive game continues to improve. He’s reached double figures in nine straight games and had a career-best 27 points against Arkansas.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State -- The Buckeyes forward is still one of the toughest players in the country to stop down low. He’s averaging 17.1 points and 9.1 boards. Sullinger will need to be at his best when Ohio State hosts No. 22 Michigan on Sunday.
On the cusp:
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina -- The Tar Heels' leading scorer had nine points during a 19-0 second-half run that helped North Carolina stave off Virginia Tech.
Will Barton, Memphis -- The top all-around player in Conference USA has scored 24 points in his past two games.
Marcus Denmon, Missouri -- Had 15 points -- and the game-clinching free throw -- in Saturday’s 89-88 win at Baylor.
Pierre Jackson, Baylor -- The tough-minded point guard had 20 points and 15 assists against Missouri. He’s the Bears’ most important player.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky -- The Wildcats’ “glue guy” sets the tone for the nation’s top-ranked team.
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut -- Had 23 points in a losing effort against Tennessee; too bad he can’t handle the ball any better, as the Huskies need another true guard.
Scott Machado, Iona -- The senior point guard averages a national-best 10.2 assists per game.
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State -- His 27 points and 14 rebounds helped the Bulldogs upset Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Mike Scott, Virginia -- Scott won’t stay on this list very long if the Cavaliers suffer another embarrassing loss like the one they endured Sunday against Virginia Tech.
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina -- The underrated center has double-doubles in five of his past six games.