College Basketball Nation: CJ McCollum

One of the few things we college hoops fans can almost universally agree on about the 2012-13 season is how wide-open and unpredictable it stands to be. This is true of all college hoops seasons, more or less, but 2011-12 felt loaded at the top, far less prone to the wild Butler/VCU/Kemba Walker-type fun of the two seasons that preceded it.

Another feather in this argument’s cap: The Associated Press' Preseason All-Americans, which, thanks to a tie, actually includes six players overall. Here’s the list, with a list of votes from the 65-member panel:
The poll is bereft of freshmen, which is probably a mistake, because you can go ahead and pencil at least one standout into the year-end team. Then again, I’m not sure which freshman stands out above the others so much so as to warrant the inclusion. Besides, the AP voters may still be recovering from that whole Harrison Barnes thing. Understandably so.

There are three truly noteworthy things about this list:

1. What it says about the diffuse nature of talent in college hoops these days. Three of its six inclusions hail from schools whose conferences live below the mid-major financial cutoff line. There are still haves and have-nots in college hoops, make no mistake. But the healthy spread of talent continues.

2. What it says about the Big Ten in comparison to its power-conference brethren. All three non-mid-major stars on the list hail from the Big Ten. There is plenty of talent in leagues around the country, but it’s hard to argue with the Big Ten’s at least temporary top-tier status.

3. One voter out of the 65 polled didn’t vote for Cody Zeller. Unlike my buddy Rob, I have no interest in outing this person. But I am not pleased. Why? For the next two weeks, every time we mention Zeller's preseason awards credentials, I am going to have to qualify "unanimous" with "near." That's four extra letters! Ugh!

The numbers you need to know

February, 17, 2011
2/17/11
10:33
AM ET
An inside look at the numbers behind Wednesday's top performances:

1. Kemba Walker broke out of a prolonged shooting slump, scoring 31 to lead Connecticut to a 78-70 win over Georgetown. He took the game over in the second half with 21 points, more than he’s been averaging in his previous eight games (17.3 ppg). Walker also added 10 assists and seven rebounds. He’s just the third player this season to post a 30-point, 10-assist game (Myron Strong, D.J. Cooper). The last time a power-conference player did it was March 12, 2009. That’s the date of the epic six-overtime Connecticut-Syracuse marathon where both Jonny Flynn and A.J. Price went for at least 30 and 10.

2. At halftime against Georgia, Vanderbilt was a mess. It had shot just 21.6 percent, and the top two scorers had done nothing. Just one game removed from his career-high, John Jenkins was scoreless. Jeffery Taylor was 0-for-10. But in the second half, Jenkins came alive with 21 points, including five 3s. Georgia scored only three points in the final 9:46 as Vanderbilt came from behind to win 64-56. The win is particularly impressive when you look at Taylor’s shooting performance. He went 2-for-18 from the field, and is just 3-for-25 over the last 2 games. It’s the worst shooting performance (min. 15 attempts) by an SEC player since Florida’s Matt Walsh went 1-for-15 against Alabama in 2004.

3. The most shocking result of the night was in San Diego, where the 5-21 Toreros knocked off No. 23 Saint Mary’s 74-66. Consider that two of San Diego’s wins had come against non-D-I schools and it’s even more improbable. But a team with only one player averaging over 10 ppg had four starters in double figures. This one was all about the second half. Trailing by eight going at halftime, San Diego shot 66.7 percent in the second half and hit 6 of 7 from 3-point range. For Saint Mary’s, Mickey McConnell and Mitchell Young combined for 45 points on 20-for-30 shooting, but the rest of the team shot just 26.7 percent. The Toreros now have more wins over the RPI top 50 than teams like UAB, Utah State and Cleveland State.

4. Speaking of Cleveland State, Norris Cole hit the court for the first time since his 41-point, 20-rebounds effort on Saturday. He didn’t quite have a repeat performance against Wright State, but the Vikings still came out on top 74-72. Cole finished with 16 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. He’s averaging 20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 5.6 apg on the season. Since 2000, only three players have averaged 20-5-5 over a full season: Evan Turner, Ricky Minard and Speedy Claxton. Cleveland State got all 74 of its points from the starting lineup, and has now gone three consecutive games without a point off the bench.

5. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum is listed at just 6-3 and 185 lbs, but plays like a much bigger man. On the season, he’s averaging 22.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg, which puts him in the top 10 in the nation among guards in both categories. On Wednesday, he did his best Norris Cole impersonation. McCollum posted 31 points, 15 rebounds, five steals and two blocks, but the Mountain Hawks fell short in overtime to Colgate. As impressive as McCollum was, this game actually belonged to Colgate’s Mike Venezia. He scored 11 of his career-high 27 points in overtime, and connected on 5-for-8 from 3.

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