College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, December 10, 2011
With only the Army-Navy game and some Division 1 playoff games on tap Saturday for college sports fans, attention turned to college hoops as ESPN presented back-to-back "road test" games featuring the two top teams in the AP Poll, #1 Kentucky and #2 Ohio State.
In the first match-up, the Buckeyes were overwhelmed by an aggressive Kansas team which led from the opening tip to the final buzzer and handed Ohio State its first loss of the season, 78-67.
Paced by junior forward, Thomas Robinson's 21 points, the Buckeyes had few answers inside as their star player, Jared Sullinger, sat out the contest with a foot injury.
Robinson's 21 points tied Will Buford's total for Ohio State for game-high honors, though Robinson was much more deadly in the lane and around the hoop, going 7-for-9 from the field and nailing 7 of 8 free throws while ripping down seven rebounds.
In the second game, unranked Indiana remained unbeaten at 9-0, knocking off the #1 Kentucky Wildcats, 73-72, on Christian Watford's buzzer-beating three-pointer that sent players and fans streaming onto the court like the Hoosiers had just captured the national championship.
The game was a statistical oddity, in that Kentucky outshot Indiana, 56%-43%, but the Hoosiers made hay outside the three-point line, hitting nine of 15 attempts, easily outshining the Wildcats' 2-for-9 effort from beyond the arc.
At one point in the second half, the red-hot Hoosiers made seven straight threes to build their lead to 10 points, but Kentucky continued to play hard inside and eventually take a two-point lead with just 5.7 seconds remaining on Doron Lamb's free throw.
Watford, a 6'9" junior with range, led all scorers with 20 points, made 8 of 15 shots from the field, going 4-for-6 from three-point range, including the clutch game winner.
With upsets to the top two teams in the polls, #3 Syracuse, an easy, 85-50, winner over George Washington went to 10-0 and will likely be the nation's #1 team when the new poll comes out on Monday. Indiana will surely be ranked, how high they go and how low Kentucky and Ohio State fall is a matter left to the voters.
No matter what, the Wildcats and Buckeyes each took home failing grades from their early-season road tests.