College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Much has been said and written about the youthful Kentucky Wildcats and their abundance of freshmen, but the team seems to be jelling rather nicely under the tutelage of coach John Calipari and the play of a select few upper-classmen.
One of those players is DeAndre Liggins, a junior and a starter, who is an on-court extension of the Kentucky philosophy, doing what he's called upon to do well, and occasionally coming up with the big effort, as he did in the Wildcats' 73-61 win over Tennessee Tuesday night.
Liggins led all scorers with 19 points, and was nearly flawless on the court, hitting 5 of 6 shots, including both of his three-pointers, and 7-for-8 from the foul line. Liggins also collected five boards, handed out three assists and snatched five steals while turning the ball over just twice. Besides matching his season-and-career high in points, he was the cog that kept Kentucky rolling toward their 17th win against 6 losses.
The Wildcats tied Tennessee at 5-4 in the SEC East, good for second place behind surprising Florida (7-2). Kentucky was happy to be back at Rupp Arena, having lost their last four games on the road. They get another taste of road flavor Saturday when they travel to play Vanderbilt. Kentucky is ranked 18 nationally; Vanderbilt is ranked #23.
NOTABLE: ESPN offers a couple of exceptional games Wednesday night, as the Syracuse Orangemen host the Georgetown Hoyas at the Carrier Dome at 7:00 pm ET. If that's not enough of a rivalry for you, then at 9:00 pm, the surging North Carolina Tar Heels - winners of five straight - invade Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the Duke Blue Devils in a resumption of the most-storied rivalry in college basketball.
The 7-1 Tar Heels trail 8-1 Duke for supremacy in the ACC, so there's plenty on the line as Roy Williams has steadied his young Carolina troops over the course of the conference schedule and has them playing with continuity and explosiveness.