College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, February 3, 2012
Junior guard Derek Needham pumped in a career high 32 points to lead Fairfield to their fourth win in its last five games with a 77-69 win over Niagara.
Needham made 11 of 16 shots, including six threes and hit four of six from the foul line as the Stags turned a 34-31 half time deficit into a win with 46 second half points.
Even though the Stags were out-rebounded and turned the ball over 19 times, they shot 56% for the game (24-43) and hit 12 three-pointers, while the Purple Eagles converted on just 24 of 64 shots, a 37.5% clip.
The Stags, 7-4 in the MAAC conference, are alone in 4th place, behind the trio of Iona, Loyola (MD) and Manhattan, all bunched together atop the league at 10-2.
NOTABLE: After the usual paucity of games on Friday night, fans will be treated to a buffet of Top 25 action on Saturday. The premiere match-up comes out of the Big 12, where #4 Missouri hosts #8 Kansas at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN. The Tigers trail the Jayhawks by one game in the conference and will be looking to tie for the lead.
Prior to that prime time affair, #2 Syracuse gets their center, Fab Melo, back from a three-game academic absense when they travel to St. Johns for a noon tip. At 2:00 pm, #20 wisconsin hosts #3 Ohio State in a key Big Ten contest. The 7-3 Badgers have won six straight and are just 1/2 game behind the 7-2 Buckeyes for the conference lead.
21 of the Top 25 teams will be in action on Saturday, including #1 Kentucky traveling to South Carolina for a 6:00 pm tip with the Gamecocks. Elsewhere in the SEC, #11 Florida hosts Vanderbilt as the Gators try to keep pace with Kentucky. The game will be televised nationally on CBS at 1:00 pm. The Gators are riding a six-game win streak after opening SEC play with a loss to Tennessee and trail Kentucky by 1 1/2 games in the conference.