Kentucky's Anthony Davis
Kentucky was the nation’s best team for 2012 (at least through April). Anthony Davis was the nation’s best player. And great rivalry games in the Bluegrass State and out churned out some classic moments through the year.
In that sense, Anthony Davis’ performance against Louisville in the Final Four is not a total shock at the top of our list of top individual performances for in 2012. Davis was the best player in the country from beginning to end, and he’ll end up here at the top of our list.
But picking other spots was difficult. Even parsing which Kansas-Missouri performance or which player from March Madness’ biggest upsets should be ahead of the other was a tough call.
As 2012 comes to a close, Athlon will countdown the top individual performances by sport during the year, culminating with a full list of the top 50 performances of the year.
We continue today with the top five individual performances in college basketball for 2012 calendar year:
More Year in Review for 2012:
1. March 31: Anthony Davis’ Big Blue dominance
With one of the best seasons in college basketball history, at least in terms of the trophy case he filled in one year, Anthony Davis may have trouble picking out his own best game of the year. The one Kentucky fans may remember most, though, is his major role in vanquishing rival Louisville in the Final Four. Davis had 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with 14 rebounds and five blocks against the Cardinals. Kentucky would win the national championship two days later.
2. March 16: O’Quinn stuns Missouri
Missouri was one of the surprise teams of the season in 2011-12, but the Tigers ended the season with a shock of their own. Kyle O’Quinn scored 26 points with 14 rebounds as 15th-seeded Norfolk State of the MEAC upset No. 2-seed Missouri 86-84 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Norfolk State became the fifth No. 15 seed to win an NCAA Tournament game and the first since Hampton in 2001. “We even messed up my bracket,” O’Quinn said.
3. March 16: Speaking of messing up brackets...
Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has been one of the nation’s highest-scoring players for four seasons, but he’s hardly a household name playing in the Patriot League. A win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Lehigh became the second No. 15 seed to win a Tournament game that day and sixth all-time when McCollum scored 30 points in the 75-70 win over Duke. McCollum added six rebounds and six assists.
4. Feb. 4: Denmon’s wild finish
Kansas and Missouri did their best to remind us what we’d miss with this rivalry going away as a casualty of realignment. Both games were classics, but Marcus Denmon’s wild finish in Columbia gets the nod at No. 4. The Missouri guard playing out of position at small forward scored the final 11 points in the 74-71 win. Denmon converted a three-point play and hit two shots from beyond the arc in the final 2:05 for a thrilling finish. He finished with 29 points and nine rebounds.
5. Feb. 8: Rivers’ dramatic game-winner
Austin Rivers made sure his one season at Duke left a lasting impression. Rivers hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer in Duke’s 85-84 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Rivers ended a furious 10-point rally in the final 2:30 in one of the wildest finishes in the the history of the rivalry. The final 3-pointer was his sixth of the game and capped a 29-point effort against North Carolina.
The “sixth man award” goes to...
Kansas' Thomas Robinson
6. Feb. 25: Robinson sends the Border War out in style
The Border War shows up twice on our list of top college basketball performances of 2012. The final game in the series for the time being couldn’t be contained in 40 minutes as Kansas won 87-86 in overtime. Thomas Robinson scored 28 points and added 12 rebounds in his signature performance of the season. His three-point play late in regulation capped a 19-point comeback to send the game to overtime.
Feb. 25: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis finished with 28 points on 10 of 11 shots from the field and 8 of 9 free throws in an 83-74 win over Vanderbilt. He also had 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Jan. 10: Illinois’ Brandon Paul hinted at the breakout year to come when he scored 43 points with eight rebounds and four blocks in a 79-74 win over then-No. 5 Ohio State.
March 16: Yep, there’s that date again. On the same day two No. 2 seeds fell, Michigan State’s Draymond Green had a triple double (24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) in an 89-67 win over No. 16-seeded LIU Brooklyn in the NCAA Tournament.
Feb. 11: Kansas’ Jeff Withey signaled what was to come for the rest of the year with 19 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in an 81-66 win over Oklahoma State.