A second-take on an All-America team

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source: AP

There’s no perfect All-America team in college basketball. There are too many players from too many teams.

But it’s fun to put together.

Our group contains 15 players from BCS-affiliated conferences and five who aren’t – if you think I’m gonna label Xavier a “mid-major” you’re nuts – and I’m certain arguments can be made for at least 20 other players who didn’t make our cut. Like I said, there’s no perfect team.

On that note, it’s easy to agree on a few guys. Jared Sullinger. Harrison Barnes. Tu Holloway. Terrence Jones (though maybe he should be higher). But beyond that, who’s too high, who’s too low and who should be on this list or off it? Rob Dauster weighs in.

FIRST TEAM

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

Tu Holloway, Xavier

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

Rob’s take: There really isn’t much to quibble about with the first team. Sullinger is the best big man in the country, Barnes is the best wing in the country and Taylor is the best point guard in the country. It would be very difficult for anyone to make a sound argument for leaving any of those three players off of the first team.

Holloway will be less of a consensus pick, but I think he deserves the preseason honor. We’re talking about a kid that was one of just three players in the country — along with Nolan Smith and Norris Cole — to average 20 ppg, 5 rpg and 5 apg until he had a disastrous, five point performance in the NCAA Tournament. This year he’s surrounded by enough talent to make Xavier a legitimate threat to make a run at the Final Four.

Personally, I’d swap out Jenkins with Terrence Jones or Anthony Davis. That’s not a knock on Jenkins by any means — I love players that can stroke it like Jenkins — but it is a testament to what I think the two Kentucky forwards will bring to the table this year. Davis is a bit of an unknown as a freshman, but I fully expect Jones to come into this season with a chip on his shoulder, playing with something to prove.

SECOND TEAM

Perry Jones, Baylor

Terrence Jones, Kentucky

John Henson, North Carolina

Jeremy Lamb, UConn

Seth Curry, Duke

Rob’s take: I’ve already touched on how I feel about Terrence Jones and John Jenkins swapping places, so I’ll skip that. I have two beefs with this team. First of all, John Henson. I love the way he plays and what he brings to the table for UNC, but I hate him on an all-american team. He’s going to be a shot-blocker and a rebounder for a Tar Heel team that doesn’t have many shots or minutes to spare. And while he may end up averaging 10 ppg, 10 rpg and 3 bpg, will that be more deserving of an all-american nomination than Tyler Zeller, who will be the go-to post presence for the Heels?

I’m also not as sold on Seth Curry as a lot of other people are. I talked with Mike about this pick last week, and he is expecting Curry to have a Nolan Smith-esque kind of year. I think Curry will be good, but I see him playing more of a facilitatory role. I think he’ll be closer to second team all-ACC than second team all-america.

THIRD TEAM

Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Thomas Robinson, Kansas

Draymond Green, Michigan State

Doug McDermott, Creighton

Ashton Gibbs, Pitt

Rob’s take: I love Ashton Gibbs and Draymond Green. Two of my favorite players in the country, and two guys whose ability is criminally underappreciated because of their lack of flash. Gibbs is a spot-up shooter that thrives running off of screens playing the role of go-to scorer for Pitt, while Green is a burly, 6-7 power forward that may end up leading the Big Ten in assists next year.

Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson are the exact opposite. Davis is the No. 1 recruit in the country. Robinson is the guy everyone expects to have a breakout season in 2011-2012. Both of these guys have the potential to be first-team all-americans this year, and while they are unknown quantities at this point, their placement may look silly by the end of the year.

FOURTH TEAM

Drew Gordon, New Mexico

Michael Glover, Iona

Orlando Johnson, Santa Barbara

Austin Rivers, Duke

Kendall Marshall, North Carolina

Rob’s take: Its tough to argue with any of these picks. Austin Rivers will put up points as a freshman, Kendall Marshall may lead the country in assists, Drew Gordon may lead the country in rebounding and both Glover and Johnson are high-major talents playing at mid-major schools.

The two biggest snubs? Marcus Denmon at Missouri and William Buford at Ohio State. Denmon is going to be counted on even more by the Tigers this year with Laurence Bowers going down with a torn acl. While his scoring numbers may go down this year playing in a more controlled system, his value to Missouri’s attack won’t. Buford is a guy I’m expecting to have a big year. Ohio State loses a lot on their perimeter with the graduation of Jon Diebler and David Lighty, and I expect to see Buford absorb some of that responsibility.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan St snaps 2-game skid

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Matthew OHaren/USA TODAY Sports
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats BC 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.