It has been a long time since Miami fans could cheer for an NCAA Tournament-bound team. It has been even longer since Hurricanes fans could cheer for a win over Duke.
With a few thundering dunks, sophomore forward Dwayne Collins could have given Miami fans reason to cheer for both.
Collins scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds last Wednesday to give Miami its first win over Duke since 1962. He followed that with 12 points and six rebounds in a win over Maryland on Saturday that also boosted the Hurricanes' NCAA resume. For those efforts he is Rivals.com's National Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 24.
Hurricanes coach Frank Haith called the week the best in his four-year tenure in Coral Gables. The four-game win streak evened Miami's ACC record at 6-6 and has the Hurricanes poised for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002.
"We need more wins," Collins said. "But we're in position to make the tournament."
DOMINATED BY DUKE
Longest losing streaks to Duke:
NOTE: * - ended last Wednesday
Jan. 7, 1997
Dec. 21, 1962
Dec. 29, 1989
William & Mary
Feb. 19, 1953
Washington & Lee
Feb. 11, 1941
Feb. 2, 1957
Feb. 15, 1987
Dec. 21, 1962*
It also was the biggest week in Collins' short career. With two standout games this week, he started to show he could be an inside complement to guard Jack McClinton, who leads Miami in scoring.
Against Duke, Collins was a presence in the paint, making 12 of 14 shots in the 96-95 win. "I was just throwing up stuff backwards and making it," Collins said. "You can't really do anything about that."
He followed that by going 6-for-11 in the 78-63 win over Maryland.
This was the kind of week Haith has sought from Collins all season. In comments to the media and in the locker room, Haith has put pressure on Collins to play to his potential.
"He played like I think Dwayne is capable of playing," Haith told The Miami Herald. "Now, we want him to go after it and have another performance like that. But he was outstanding. He was aggressive, he was attacking the rim. That's the post presence we've been wanting. That's the Dwayne we've been wanting."
Collins had his own motivation against Duke. The sophomore was a non-factor in the teams' first meeting, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, on Feb. 2. Collins was in foul trouble, played only nine minutes and scored two points.
"I felt like I had to do something (in the second game)," Collins said.
OTHER NOMINEES FOR PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
F D.J. Augustin, Texas
Texas is in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in large part because of the efforts of Augustin. The sophomore scored 27 points and added nine assists in a 77-50 win over Texas A&M. He scored 19 points Saturday in a victory over Oklahoma.
A nudge from Corey Stokes set up one of the most controversial finishes of the season and what could have been a crushing loss for Villanova. Now, Stokes might just nudge the Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament.
Against Georgetown on Feb. 11, Stokes bumped the Hoyas' Jonathan Wallace 70 feet from the basket. An official called Stokes for the questionable foul that enabled Wallace to sink two free throws with one second left for a 55-53 win.
At that point, that nudge was Stokes' biggest contribution to Villanova's season. Not so anymore. Stokes, who scored in double digits only once in the first 23 games of the season, helped put Villanova back into the NCAA Tournament picture last week.
He scored 16 points in a 78-56 win over West Virginia on Wednesday. He followed that with 18 points in a 67-65 stunner over Connecticut to even the Wildcats' Big East record at 7-7.
F Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Griffin scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a critical win over Baylor on Tuesday. He followed that with 16 points and 16 rebounds in a loss at Texas.
G O.J. Mayo, USC
Mayo bounced back from a four-point, 10-turnover game against UCLA with a big week against the Oregon schools. Mayo scored 32 points in a win over Oregon and added 21 in a win over Oregon State.
For the first time this season, the Drake crowd went home unhappy. Bradley's Jeremy Crouch made sure of that.
Crouch and Bradley handed Drake its first home loss of the season last Tuesday, with Crouch hitting with a jumper in the final 11 seconds to give the Braves a 72-71 win.
The game was only part of a hot streak for Crouch, who has scored at least 20 points in each of his past three games.
Crouch added 24 points and eight rebounds in Bradley's 84-72 BracketBuster win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday.
Al Fisher, Kent State
Fisher helped solidify Kent State's chances at getting an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament by scoring 28 points in a 65-57 win over Saint Mary's, the Gaels' first loss at home this season. Fisher scored 20 points earlier in the week in a 76-66 win over Buffalo.
Josh Young, Drake
Drake rebounded from a loss to Bradley with a 71-64 win at Butler in a BracketBuster game. Young scored 25 points against the Bulldogs after scoring 23 in the loss to Bradley.
David is a college basketball writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.