College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, December 1, 2009
After Penn State got the Big Ten off to a winning beginning with a 69-66 win over Virginia Monday night, the ACC, which has won this early season measuring stick each of the last ten years, roared back with a trio of victories to even the score at three games per conference.
Maryland whipped Indiana, 80-68; Virginia Tech schooled Iowa, 70-64; and the North Carolina Tar Heels stepped past Michigan State, 89-82, in a rematch of last year's national championship final.
Even though North Carolina lost four starters and super sub Danny Green to the pros from last season's championship team, the Tar Hells have reloaded in a hurry, sporting more height and depth on a squad made up primarily of underclassmen.
While seniors Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson got the most floor time, major contributions were made by a pair of rising sophomores, 6'10" forward Ed Davis and 6'2" point guard Larry Drew II. Davis, who is averaging nearly a double-double (16.7 points, 9.4 rebounds), scored a game-high 22 points to go with his 6 boards and 2 assists, as he dominated the interior. Drew pumped in 18 points, on 6-0f-7 shooting, missing just one of his two 3-point attempts while shutting down the Spartans' Kalin Lucas, one of the nation's top ball-handling guards. He and freshman Dexter Strickland limited the Michigan State star to a poor shooting performance (6-of-17, 15 points), keeping Lucas on the perimeter and denying him driving and passing lanes.
The Heels sizzled at 58% from the floor, hitting 5-of-10 3-pointers. Michigan State, hampered by the Tar Hell height and length, shot just 43%, including a miserable 10% (1-of-10) from beyond the arc. One standout for the Spartans was Raymar Morgan, the Spartan's high-scorer, with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 6 rebounds.
The Big Ten/ACC Challenge concludes on Wednesday night with five more games, capped off by #6 Duke at Wisconsin at 9:15 pm from Madison and #21 Florida St. at #15 Ohio State at 9:30 pm from Columbus. Earlier games include Illinois at Clemson, Minnesota at Miami and Boston College at Michigan.
Earlier wins by the Big Ten included Purdue over Wake Forest, 69-58, and Northwestern's surprisingly easy 65-53 win over NC State.