College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, January 26, 2012
When Tyler Zeller finds matchups he likes, i.e., shorter guys in the paint, the North Carolina Tar Heels are virtually unstoppable.
That was clearly evident as Zeller led the Tar Heels to their 17th win against just three losses, putting a thorough thumping on nearby rival NC State, 74-55.
While the 7-foot senior was putting up 21 points and 17 rebounds - his eighth double-double of the season and fourth in a row - his teammates were clamping down on the Wolfpack, limiting them to 37% shooting, blocking eight shots (five by Jon Henson), forcing 17 turnovers and outrebounding them by a preposterous 48-26.
Zeller's performance was one of his best of the season, hitting 8 of 11 shots, all five of his free throws, and getting six offensive rebounds.
With the win, the 7th-ranked Tar Heels improved to 4-1 in the conference, 1/2 game behind ACC co-leaders, Duke and Florida State, both with 5-1 records.
NOTABLE: After a stunning December in which the Hoosiers beat two top-ranked teams, Kentucky and Ohio State, Indiana has found the sledding in the Big Ten to be a little rough. They lost their conference opener at Michigan State, 80-65, then beat the Buckeyes, 74-70, and topped Michigan and Penn State, but since have lost four of their last five, including Thursday's 57-50 dinimg at #25 Wisconsin. Indiana's currently ranked 16th nationally, but, with losses mounting, especially against conference foes, their grip on a Top 25 ranking is quickly slipping away.