College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 25, 2012
With just two weeks to go before selection Sunday, there were plenty of surprises and hard-earned wins on the hardwoods of America on Saturday, though the finest performances were secured by two big men who will likely be 1-2 in voting for college player of the year, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Kansas forward, Thomas Robinson.
Davis led the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats to an 83-74 win over a testy Vanderbilt bunch which pushed them until the very end. Scoring a game high 28-points, Davis was 10-for-11 from the field and 8-for-9 from the foul line, to go with 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. His 28 points surpassed his career high of 27 scored against Arkansas earlier in the season. It was his 12th double-double of the season.
Kentucky's win was its 20th straight and 14th without a loss in the SEC. The victory, coupled with Florida's 76-62 loss at Georgia, earned the Wildcats their 45th regular season conference title and second under coach Calipari.
The Wildcats have just two games remaining on the conference schedule - at home against Georgia, March 1, and at Florida on March 4. Should they win both, they would become just the third Kentucky squad to finish the SEC season without a loss. The 1996 team won the national championship, while the 2003 unit were taken out in the regional semi-final.
Kentucky will almost certainly take one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA tourney and very likely could be the #1 overall seed.
At Kansas, Thomas Robinson led the Jayhawks back from a 19-point deficit with 28 points and 12 rebounds to take down Missouri in overtime, 87-86, in a fitting finale to one of college basketball's fiercest rivalries.
The Jayhawks and Tigers have been going at it on the courts since 1907. The game was the 267th time the two Big 12 contestants have met, and, with Missouri joining the SEC next season, possibly the last. The two teams, which have split wins on their home courts this season, may meet again in the conference tournament.
Robinson led the Kansas comeback on 10 of 21 shooting and an 8-for-9 effort from the stripe. He also had 12 boards, for his 20th double-double as the Jayhawks all but sewed up the Big 12 title. Robinson has scored in double figures in every game this season except one, a December 29 rout of Howard in which he played only 22 minutes and tallied nine points.
#4 Kansas, 24-5 and 14-2 in conference play, has just two regular season games remaining, at Oklahoma State on February 27 and at home for Texas on March 3. They lead the 12-4 Tigers by two games in the standings. Missouri is ranked 3rd in the latest AP poll and is 25-4 overall.
NOTABLE: Among the upsets dotting the college hoops landscape on Saturday were St. John's taking down #20 Notre Dame, 61-58; St. Joseph's taking out #22 Temple, 82-72; and TCU knocking off #24 New Mexico, 83-64. Since back-to-back wins over Mountain West powerhouses, UNLV and San Diego State, the Lobos have lost two straight, both on the road. The conference is deadlocked with New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State all posting 8-4 marks, with TCU a game back at 7-5.
#2 Syracuse wrapped up the Big East regular season crown with a 71-69 victory at Connecticut, their ninth under head coach Jim Boeheim. The Orange are 29-1 and 16-1 in the Big East, their best marks ever. The win also secured a double bye in the upcoming conference tournament which Syracuse has won five times, all under the tutelage of coach Boeheim.