College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, January 12, 2013
And Then there was one.
With Duke's loss to North Carolina State on Saturday, there remains only one team in the country without a loss, the 2nd-ranked Michigan Wolverines, but they must survive a trip to Columbus Ohio on Sunday, where they will play the #15 Ohio State Buckeyes - in order to last through the weekend and into Monday's poll as the presumptive #1 team in the country. Tip time for the Buckeyes and Wolverines is 1:30 pm ET.
Duke's demise came a short bus ride from their home court, at PNC Arena, home to the #20 Wolfpack, sure to rise in the rankings after their 84-76 victory over the previously-unbeaten Blue Devils.
Richard Howell, one of the nation's most accurate shooters, striking the iron at 62.3%, was a beast in the paint, scoring 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, in addition to hauling down a game high 18 rebounds, six of them on the offensive end.
Besides denying the Blue Devils second opportunities with his board work, Howell also kept Wolfpack possessions alive by battling Mason Plumlee and other Duke rebounders.
Howell, who averages a double-double (12.4 points, 10.6 rebounds), turned in his ninth such performance of the season, helping NC State improve to 14-2, but, more importantly, push the Wolfpack to the top of the ACC standings, at 3-1.
Howell had plenty of help in upending Duke. The team's leading scorer, CJ Leslie, pumped in a game-high 25 points, and NC State's assist leader, Lorenzo Brown, dished 13 times and scored 12 points.
NOTABLE: 19 of the nation's top 25 teams were in action on Saturday, with all of them winning except for the Blue Devils, #8 Minnesota (dumped at #5 Indiana, 88-81), #17 Notre Dame, a 65-58 loser at home to unranked UConn, and 10th-ranked Missouri, finding early trouble in the SEC, falling at Mississippi, 64-49.