College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 18, 2012
With 20 of the Top 25 teams taking to the hardwood on Saturday, there was plenty of fuel to turn February's frolics into March Madness, and, while some of the best teams in the country were easily handling their opponents, it was Drew Gordon and the New Mexico Lobos who turned a lot of heads.
Unranked New Mexico has been largely overlooked by the pollsters, but, after winning at #13 San Diego State, 77-67, on Wednesday and absolutely punishing #11 UNLV, 65-45, the Lobos stand alone atop the Mountain West with an 9-2 record in the conference and a gaudy 22-4 mark overall.
Gordon, a burly, 6'8", 245-pound forward devastated the UNLV front line with a career high 27 points and 20 rebounds, tying his season high number for board dominance. The senior, who transferred from UCLA after the 2009-10 season, made 13 of 20 field goals, passed off a couple of assists and made three steals. It was his eighth double-double of the season, a stat which should have most of the big men in the country seeking ways to slow him down.
The Lobos appear to have the conference title all but wrapped up, with four games remaining against some of the dregs of the Mountain West. Their upcoming opponents have a combined record in the conference of 16-24, and the Lobos have already beaten each of them earlier this season.
NOTABLE: At the top of the rankings, #1 Kentucky, #3 Missouri and #4 Kansas won without much of a problem. Syracuse and Duke, ranked 2nd and 5th, were idle, but #6 Ohio State was overthrown at Michigan, the #17 Spartans taking them down by a 56-51 score, while winning their 16th straight home game. The Spartans tied the Buckeyes for second place in the Big Ten at 10-4, both teams just 1/2 game behind 10-3 Michigan State.
Ohio State wasn't the only ranked team to be upset. #9 Baylor lost at home to Kansas State, 57-56, #13 San Diego State fell to Air Force, 58-56, and #24 Gonzaga fell to San Francisco, 66-65.
In Arkansas, both Florida's Erving Walker and the Razorbacks' BJ Young scored 31 points, but the Gators were 30 points better, winning on the road by a 98-68 final.
Another team getting some notice is Wichita State, as the Shockers, tied with Gonzaga at #24, rode Joe Ragland's 30 points for a 91-74 win over Davidson.
#16 Murray State proved to be as good as their 26-1 record implied, pounding #22 St. Mary's, 65-51.