College Hoops Player of the Day for DAY, Month, 2011
An individual player having a monster game is always a good thing, but, in the long run, basketball is a team game, and teams which don't have to rely on one or two star players are usually the better for it.
Take Ohio State, for instance, a team which demonstrated a wealth of talent among their starters as they bombed the Duke Blue Devils in the now-annual ritual of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, smashing Duke's perfect season with an 83-65 blowout victory.
The Buckeyes led wire-to-wire, beginning the game with an 11-0 run that set the stage for the monumental win.
Jared Sullinger led all scorers with 21 points, adding eight rebounds. The sophomore forward from Columbus, Ohio was 8-for-14 from the field.
Three of Sullinger's teammates weren't far behind in the scoring category. Senior guard, William Buford, closing in on the all-time Buckeye scoring leaders, pumped in 20 on 8-for-15 shooting, including two of three from beyond the arc. Highly-touted sophomore, Deshaun Thomas was 8-for-12 with a pair of threes, for 18 points, his high point total for the season.
Point guard Aaron Craft may have had the best game of all, scoring a season-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Craft also dished out eight assists, for his third straight game.
Ohio State, which was moved up to #2 in Monday's rankings, improved to 7-0, dropping #3 Duke to 7-1. The win also gave the Big Ten a 4-2 edge in the challenge series, which continues on Wednesday.
NOTABLE: Winners for the Big Ten, along with the Buckeyes, included Northwestern, a 76-60 winner over Georgia Tech, Purdue, 76-65 over Miami, and Illinois, which topped Maryland, 71-62.
For the ACC, Clemson beat Iowa, 71-55, and Virginia topped Michigan, 70-58.
The Baylor Bears, already ranked #7, got a big boost from sophomore Perry Jones III, who crammed in 27 points in Baylor's 90-54 win over Prairie View A&M. The 6'11" forward hit 10 of 14 shots and grabbed six boards.
Jones was playing his first game of the season due to a six-game suspension for accepting disallowed benefits which included Baylor's final game in the Big 12 tournament last season. Baylor is 6-0.
Syracuse played their first game since assistant coach Larry Fine was fired for alleged sexual misconduct, but the Orange didn't miss a beat, knocking off Eastern Michigan, 84-48, before a packed house at the Carrier Dome, Super sub, James Southerland, scored 19 points in 19 minutes. The crowd gave head coach Jim Boeheim, himself under fire in the scandal, a raucous standing ovation as he made his way onto the floor. Boeheim addressed the issues in the post-game press conference, but said there was nothing he would do or say until the investigation into the matter was concluded. Syracuse officials are staunchly behind Boeheim remaining as head coach of the Orange, a position he's held since 1976.