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NCAA Daily Links

Thu, 12/22/2011 - 10:21am

December 22, 2011

Welcome to another edition of NCAA Daily! A lot of solid NCAA Basketball action last night. Got to check out a number of solid NBA prospects in the Texas vs. North Carolina match-up which starts us off today:

Barnes Big Day Helps #5 Heels Top Texas
(Adam Smith/Times-News)

Harrison BarnesHarrison BarnesIn what was his best statistical performance of his sophomore year thus far, Harrison Barnes put up season highs with 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead North Carolina to an 82-63 victory over Texas. He only played 25 minutes, making those numbers even more impressive.

“I think that’s the hardest we’ve played, or at least I’ve played, all season,” Barnes said. “I know I’m exhausted.”

It certainly appeared that Barnes was more aggressive in this game than he has been in many Tar Heels contests this season. He used his size to his advantage over smaller defenders and he attacked the glass on both ends of the floor. Truly, this is the Harrison Barnes many of us expected to see when he bypassed the 2011 NBA Draft to return to college. Many thought that Barnes would have been a lock for a top 5 choice, possibly even in contention for the top spot. His performance against the Longhorns is one reason why there are still many Barnes believers.

Beyond Barnes, North Carolina presented too much depth, size and used experience to take advantage of a young Texas team playing 6 freshman heavy rotation minutes. John Henson showed his improved offensive game to get a double-double as well with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Not to mention, Henson's length blocks and alters numerous shots. Along with Tyler Zeller, they make an imposing front court duo for any opponent with their size and athleticism.

The match-up I most looked forward too, between PG's Kendall Marshall of North Carolina and Myck Kabongo of Texas, turned out to not really live up to billing. Marshall easily had the better game displaying his incredible court vision, finishing with 9 assists. Kabongo played limited minutes, apparently suffering through injury. When he did play, you saw flashes of elite speed, but the thing that most stuck out were the 4 turnovers, almost looking overwhelmed at times against the North Carolina defense.

Texas had three players lead them with 16 points, junior J'Covan Brown and freshmen Johnathan Holmes plus Sheldon McClellan. Brown, who is Texas' leading scorer on the season, had a tough task against larger North Carolina competition and struggled at times. McClellan definitely seemed to show a great deal of promise and could have a bright future. Still, hard to say any of the three would be in the class of NC 6th man Reggie Bullock. Bullock appears to be back to himself after suffering through injuries as a freshman. North Carolina truly was the much better team and could have won by even more with a few minor tweaks. They still look elite, but hopefully they become more cohesive during conference play.

Andre Drummond Playing As A Walk-On For Connecticut
(Gavin Keefe/The Day)

Usually, most schools are incredibly happy if a walk-on makes even a small contribution to a team. But, most schools would not expect to have a walk-on be a major recruit and possible one-and-done draft prospect. Well, Connecticut has achieved this rare scenario as Andre Drummond has decided to play on the Huskies as a walk-out. Considered by many to be one of the better center prospects in the last few years, it comes as a shock that he has decided to pay his own way.

Connecticut had already reached its scholarship limit when Drummond decided to come to college in late August. The original plan was for Michael Bradley, a 6'10 redshirt freshman, to give up his and apply for financial aid. While Drummond was very appreciative of his teammates gesture, he decided that he would pay his own way.

"I'm thankful for what Mike was trying to do for me," Drummond said Tuesday. "I told Mike, 'Don't do that, man. I'll pay my way and take a scholarship next year. You don't have to give up a scholarship for me.'

"It was my decision. That's not fair to him. He worked hard to get that scholarship. I'm not going to take something from somebody that's not mine. It was my decision to come late."

Drummond had originally intended to go to play an additional year of prep school, with the possibility of even bypassing college altogether. When he finally decided to go to college, UConn was the far away favorite. Due to restrictions on scholarships with sanctions against coach Jim Calhoun, they were somewhat limited in accomodating. It is almost unheard of that a prospect the likes of Drummond would pay his own way, even with the NBA possibly on the horizon.

This is truly the first time I have heard of a player of Drummond's magnitude, currently projected as the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft by NBADraft.net and a lock for the top 5, decide to take on student loans rather than play under scholarship. Of course Drummond will not have the issues most college kids have with paying back the student loans upon receiving his NBA paycheck, but you have to give him credit for being willing to do what many others have not been.

It is in no way condemning the actions of others, nobody wants to pay for college if given the opportunity not to, but I just feel that Drummond did the right thing here. He took it upon himself and did not make his teammate sacrifice, which I believe is very honorable, not to mention refreshing.

#22 Murray State Wins First OVC Game, Still Unbeaten
(Ricky Martin/Murray Ledger & Times)

My first article was brought to you by the founder of laissez-faire economics, now we are "Livin' La Vida Loca" for my third article about the Murray State Racers. The Racers are rising up the charts almost as much as that track did in its heyday after going unbeaten in conference play and looking to stay that way as their are talks of them running the table in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State are an experienced bunch who claimed a spot in the Top 25 polls after beating than #20 Memphis on their home floor.

Now, the Racers are becoming national news as many wonder just when they will finally lose. Syracuse, Louisville, Missouri and Indiana are all currently unbeaten as well, but many feel these teams are destined to lose a few contests when they start playing some tougher in-conference games. Murray State may not have that issue, as all of their toughest games seem to be behind them. While most every school in the OVC has 5 or 6 losses, the Racers are 13-0.

Last night they played Tennessee Martin and the 78-54 final score does not show exactly just how dominant Murray State truly was. They outrebounded their opponent 34-19, not to mention shooting an unreal 68.3% from the field! Senior Donte Poole scored 15 points and seems to be the leader of the team. Their best player and leading scorer on the season, junior Isaiah Canaan, had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Canaan was the only starter in the game to shoot less than 80% from the field. If the Racers keep this up, it will be hard to deny them a high seed in March, regardless of their conference.

Scott Great Once Again, Helps #24 Virginia Avoid Upset
(Bob Condotta/The Seattle Times)

Definitely have mentioned senior PF Mike Scott a few times in my past edition's of NCAA Daily. He is having a monster senior year and had a career high 33 points (12-14 FG, 9-11 FT) with 14 rebounds in an 83-77 win over Seattle. The game may have been closer than coach Tony Bennett would have liked for his newly ranked Cavaliers, but Scott definitely dominated. Scott missed most of last season due to injury and is the ACC's active leader in career points, rebounds and double-doubles. He is averaging 17.1 ppg and 9.9 rpg this season and should have Virginia in the fight for the best ACC team behind North Carolina and Duke.

Iona Stomps William & Mary
| (Sean Brennan/New York Daily News)

Iona's senior leaders Scott Machado and Mike Glover both had double-doubles as Iona took down William & Mary, 83-65. The seniors actually let sophomores Sean Armand and Momo Jones take the scoring lead, as both players finished with 20 points. Glover had a traditional double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Machado, meanwhile, had a fairly untraditional 10 and 10 with rebounds and assists, scoring single digit points. This does nothing to help candidates for the "Coolest PG Award", as Scott Machado is leading right now by a mile (Award may not exist).

This Just In: John Jenkins Still Elite Shooter
(Greg Sullivan/The Tennesseean)

Vanderbilt has unfortunately lost a few more games than many expected when they were ranked #7 in the pre-season polls. This almost made one forget that they possess one of college basketballs greatest shooting weapons in junior John Jenkins. Well, Jenkins refreshed our memories last night, scoring 27 points on 9-12 FG and 7-9 3PT in the Commodores 89-58 win over Lafayette. Jenkins is averaging 20.6 ppg for the season and will hopefully continue his strong shooting to gain 8-4 Vandy a little more credibility during SEC play.

Alabama Rocks Young Oklahoma State, 69-52
(AHN Spots/Gant Daily)

Starting the game on a 21-4 run, Alabama did not need star JaMychal Green to beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys handily. Sophomore guard Trevor Releford had a game high 19 points, while junior wing Tony Mitchell provided 16 and 11 for the Crimson Tide. Star forward JaMychal Green missed the game with a shoulder injury, but a 56-47 lead with 5:40 remaining was the biggest scare Bama had on the way to victory. Freshman LeBryan Nash led Oklahoma State with 17 points, but the Cowboys have lost their last 3, now at 6-5 on the year.

Jarnell Stokes Announces College Decision Today
(Mike Griffith/Knoxville News Sentinel)

Since he found out that he would ineligible to play high school basketball this year due to transfer rules, Jarnell Stokes has indeed been a possible January enrollee to play basketball. We will find out which lucky school gets the talented 5-star big man today. Amongst the schools on Stokes' list are Florida, Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky. Stokes is from Tennessee and the Vols surely could use his help. Word is, they might be the favorite to land his services.

Prestonwood Christian Defeats Grace Prep To Win City of Palms Classic
(Ron White/MaxPreps.com)

In a re-match of an earlier meeting between the two teams where Grace Prep won handily, Prestonwood Christian exacted revenge in a 62-42 beatdown in the finals of the City of Palms Classic Tournament. They become the first Texas team to win the palms, defeating a big time Texas foe in the process. Freshman phenom Mickey Mitchell took the reins for Prestonwood and finished with a game high 19 points and 8 rebounds.

"I've never seen a freshman like Mickey. He can really play," first-year Prestonwood Christian coach Chris Mayberry. "He's just so intelligent. His basketball IQ is outrageous. He just understands the game so well."

Kansas commit Zach Peters finished with 15 and 8, plus was credited with slowing down 7 foot Isaiah Austin. Thought to be amongst the nations best recruits and committed to Baylor, Austin and sophomore Emmanuel Mudiay were held to 10 points each to lead Grace Prep. Prestonwood's Julius Randle is amongst the nations best juniors and scored 7 points to go with 7 rebounds in the final. Despite his quiet performance, Randle was named tournament MVP.

That is it for today, but there are plenty of great games going on tonight that are sure to generate a lot of buzz! Hope to see you all back for tomorrow's NCAA Daily!

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