College Basketball: The best performances of the year
Jimmer! Kemba! Unique names, big games.
BYUís Jimmer Fredette and Connecticutís Kemba Walker have stormed through the season with jaw-dropping performances that have lifted their teams into the Top 10 and has them both in contention for player of the year honors. The only thing harder than guarding one of the two is figuring out which of their games rocked college basketball more than the others.
Take Fredette. He scored 47 points against Utah and 42 vs. Colorado State. Either of those stellar performances would be a career highlight for about any other player. Itís just not the best for the player who sparked ěJimmermania.î
Walker scored 42 points in the second game of the season against Vermont, a sneak peek at was ahead for the junior guard whoís making the Huskies forget all about last season and put their sights firmly on a deep tourney run in March.
Fredette and Walker ó oh, to heck with proper names ó Jimmer and Kemba headline a list of six standout performances to remember with the best of the sport still ahead.
Kemba Walker, UConn. His 29 points against Kentucky werenít his season high, but his performance in the Maui Invitational championship game victory sent a message that UConn was back. He was the tournament MVP, hitting runners, game-changing 3s and engineering the decisive run that squashed the Wildcats for good. Kentucky coach John Calipari called Walker a pit bull and did he ever attack in Maui. He shot 10 for 17, hit 3 of 4 3s and added six assists in the 84-67 victory. The Huskies were unranked at the time, but were No. 5 in the poll heading into Saturdayís game at Louisville.
Jimmer Fredette. BYU. Fredette scored 40 points in three of the last four games for the No. 9 Cougars (20-1) and is earning comparisons to former Davidson super scorer Stephen Curry. One name says it all. Like Oprah. Magic. LeBron. You know exactly who is being talked about when you hear the name Jimmer.
Kyrie Irving, Duke. Hard to believe now, considering the state of both parties, but this was as clutch a performance against as good a team as Michigan State as any in early December. Irving scored a season-high 31 points and became the fourth Duke freshman to score 30 points and the first since J.J. Redick in 2003. It seemed like a sign of things to come. It was ó for the Spartans. Michigan State has slumped badly in Big Ten play while Irvingís season is in jeopardy after he injured his right big toe. He may not play again, but the true point left a fleeting glimpse of just how talented he is and why he had the Blue Devils believing they could repeat as national champions.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State. No. 1 in the poll, unbeaten on the court. Sullinger has been the go-to Buckeye for a team dominating the Big Ten and all of college basketball. The 6-foot-9 Sullinger is averaging 17.9 points and 10.2 rebounds for the 21-0 Buckeyes. His night to remember came in a win over Illinois. He had 27 points and 16 rebounds, and played all 40 minutes in the 73-68 decision over the Illini. Sullinger was 13 for 15 at the free throw line and scored Ohio Stateís first nine points of the second half, to keep the perfect record in tact. Heís a deft passer, doesnít turn the ball over and could follow former Buckeye Evan Turner as a lottery pick selection in the NBA.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky. Jamal Mashburn. Rex Chapman. Dan Issel. John Wall. Cotton Nash. None of them did what Jones accomplished when he came off the bench and scored a Kentucky freshman-record 35 points against Auburn.
LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor. Donít remember this one? Well, Morgan State would surely like to forget it, after Dunn exploded for one of the dominant games of the season. He scored 43 points and hit 10 3-pointers ó including three in 58 seconds.
Associated Press CHAPEL HILLó Harrison Barnes never proclaimed himself to be the best player in college basketball or even a... read more