Weekly Awards: Darrun Hilliard stars for Villanova, San Diego State takes control out west

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Darrun Hilliard (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Darrun Hilliard, Villanova

Villanova had a terrific week, winning a pair of road games against ranked teams. On Tuesday, the Wildcats went into Providence and knocked off the Friars, following that up by knocking off Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. Hilliard was the star. In the win over the Friars, Hilliard finished with 16 points and three boards, but it was his performance against Butler that earned him this award. In Hinkle, Hilliard finished with 31 points and eight boards and hit eight threes, which included the game-winning three with just 1.4 seconds left on the clock.

Villanova’s week was huge for them, as it put them in the driver’s seat in the Big East title race. The Wildcats hold a two-game lead over Butler in the league standings and a three game lead over the rest of the field with six games remaining.

THE ALL ‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s: The Johnnies bounced back from a rough stretch with three straight wins. This week, as St. John’s beat DePaul and Xavier, Pointer averaged 19.5 points, 8.0 boards, 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein has been the centerpiece of the Kentucky defense all season long, but this week, in wins over LSU and South Carolina, averaged 14.5 points.
  • Brian Sullivan, Davidson: The Wildcats picked up a pair of big wins this week, remaining a game back of the Atlantic 10 leaders, and Sullivan was the star. He averaged 23.5 points in the two games.
  • Tyus Jones, Duke: Duke won at Florida State and at Syracuse this week, and Jones was the best player for the Blue Devils. He averaged 13.5 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 boards.
  • Schadrac Casimir, Iona: The Gaels won three games this week and four in an eight-day stretch to take control of the MAAC race. Casimir averaged 22.5 points in those four games, shooting 60.0 percent from the floor and 69.0 percent (20-for-29) from three.
  • Notables: Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Dez Wells (Maryland)
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AP

TEAM OF THE WEEK: San Diego State Aztecs

The Aztecs breezed through the biggest week of their regular season. After knocking off a depleted Wyoming team on Tuesday, Steve Fisher’s club knocked off Colorado State at home in impressive fashion on Saturday night. The Aztecs are now 10-3 in the Mountain, all alone in first place and two games in front of the Rams. The two teams a game behind them are Wyoming, who is still playing without Larry Nance Jr., and Boise State, who still has to play at SDSU. The Aztecs are completely in the driver’s seat in the conference with just five games left in the regular season.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Michigan State: The Spartans knocked off Northwestern in Chicago and followed that up by beating Ohio State in East Lansing. Denzel Valentine averaged 17.5 points and hit the game-winner against the Buckeyes.
  • UMass: The Minutemen have won six straight games and are now tied for first place in the Atlantic 10.
  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack picked up a massive win on Saturday, going into Louisville and knocking off the Cardinals in a win they desperately needed on their tournament profile.
  • Arkansas: The Razorbacks have now won seven of their last eight games and moved into sole possession of second place in the SEC with two road wins this week. On Saturday, they got revenge on Ole Miss by beating them in Oxford.
  • UCLA: The Bruins moved into a tie for third-place in the Pac-12 as they swept the Oregon schools at home this week. On Saturday, UCLA knocked off Oregon is a game that had all kinds of bubble implications. The Bruins have come all the way back and are now fully in the bubble conversation.

SET YOUR DVR

  • No. 8 Kansas at No. 21 West Virginia, Mon. 9:00 p.m.
  • Xavier at Cincinnati, Wed. 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 14 Iowa State at No. 21 Oklahoma State, Wed. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 12 North Carolina at No. 4 Duke, Wed. 9:00 p.m.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, Sat. 10:00 p.m.