Jan 22, 2011, 5:26 PM EDT
Jared Sullinger did more than power No. 1 Ohio State past No. 23 Illinois on Saturday. The massive power forward firmly entrenched himself in the national Player of the Year discussion as well.
A 27-point, 16-rebound performance – all on national TV – helped the Buckeyes (20-0) avoid their first loss of the season, at one of the Big Ten’s toughest venues, no less.
“I felt like Jared was pretty good today,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said afterward. “That was a joke — he was awesome.”
Until now, much of the national attention revolved around BYU senior guard Jimmer Fredette – he of the ridiculous shooting range – and Connecticut senior Kemba Walker – he of the last-second heroics. They’re 1-2 nationally in scoring, jaw-dropping plays and hyperbole.
Conversely, Sullinger, the Buckeyes’ 6-foot-9, 280-pound freshman, is an overpowering presence down low, a player who feasts on opposing post players and compiles double-doubles (10 through 20 games), not highlight-reel plays. That’s his genius – he’s a force down low and one that must be seen in entire games in order to be properly appreciated. (Or you could just take a look at his stats. They’ll impress casual fans and tempo-free advocates.)
“He’s tough,” Illinois forward Mike Davis said afterward. “He’s bigger than I thought he was.”
But that’s life for a traditional post player in the college game – the guards usually grab all the attention. But Sullinger now has the added bonus of playing for an unbeaten team that’s atop the rankings. That’s something Fredette and Walker can’t match, no matter how many points they score.
When you’re the best player on the nation’s No. 1 team, you can’t help but earn Player of the Year plaudits. If Sullinger does more of the same Tuesday against Purdue – and their stellar center, JaJaun Johnson – he’ll only boost his rep even more.
“He’s a special young man,” Matta said. “His humility — he’s all about winning.”
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT
Tom Izzo does it again. Add it to the long line of amazing midnight madness entrances.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT
Chris Mack and his daughters performed ‘Paul Revere’ at Musketeer Madness on Friday night.
Oct 24, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
The Wisconsin forward is likely to miss a week or two
Oct 24, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
Ed Cooley adds a 6-foot-8 forward to the Friars’ front court.
Oct 24, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
The former Virginia Tech Hokie will be a big boost to SMU’s perimeter.
Oct 24, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Manhattan and head coach Steve Masiello had some issues to address this spring, but thanks in part to their departed senior class the Jaspers are well-positioned to once again contend in the MAAC.
Oct 24, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT
One of the nation’s highly-touted bigs is closer to making a decision after eliminating two programs from his list.
Oct 24, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Jones became the second coach to lead LSU to postseason appearances in his first two years this past spring.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:52 PM EDT
Kellogg’s led his alma mater to 21 wins or more in each of the last three seasons.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT
Georgetown holds a 35-29 lead in their all-time series with UConn.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Villanova went 29-5 last season and return essentially the same lineup. Why aren’t more people talking about them?
Oct 24, 2014, 12:13 PM EDT
Texas now has two four-star commitments, with Kerwin Roach joining Eric Davis on Friday.
Oct 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Of Baylor’s five verbal commitments in the Class of 2015 four are guards, including their latest commit.
Oct 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Kentucky’s on top, but who’s next in line?
Oct 24, 2014, 12:06 AM EDT
Syracuse’s men’s basketball and football programs are under investigation, with the stakes being higher for Jim Boeheim’s program.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
Joshua Smith averaged 11.5 points per game before being ruled academically ineligible last season.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT
Cam Payne became the star of Murray State as a freshman, but he wouldn’t have gotten there if he had a back up. Why?
Oct 23, 2014, 9:53 PM EDT
The preseason favorites to win the Atlantic 10 added a new teammate Thursday.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:03 PM EDT
Shawn Lester averaged 11.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the sixth man role last season.
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