Ryan Kelly (Getty Images)
The Dagger continues its season-in-review series this week with a look back at the top individual performances of the 2012-13 college basketball season. Let us know which ones we missed via Twitter or in the comments below.
1. Jack Taylor's record scoring barrage: College basketball's single-game scoring record now belongs to a 5-foot-10 sophomore who had no Division I scholarship offers. Jack Taylor, a 5-foot-10 sophomore at Grinnell College, set a single-game scoring record on Nov. 20 when he erupted for an unimaginable 138 points in his team's 179-104 rout of Faith Baptist Bible. That easily eclipsed the former all-division record of 113 points set by Rio Grande's Clarence "Bevo" Francis against Hillsdale College in 1951. Taylor attempted 108 of Grinnell's 138 shots on his record night, sinking 25 of 37 shots from inside the arc, 27 of 71 3-pointers and 7 of 10 free throws.
2. Ryan Kelly's heroic return: If Mike Krzyzewski's plan was to ease Ryan Kelly back into the rotation in early March, the senior forward quickly forced his coach to scrap that idea. Kelly, who missed the previous 13 games with a right foot injury, erupted for a career-high 36 points in his return against first-place Miami on March 3, carrying Duke to a 79-76 victory that avenged a previous 27-point loss to the Hurricanes. Kelly was sensational from the start, scoring 20 first-half points, sinking a 3-pointer with nine minutes to go to give Duke the lead for good and sealing the win with free throws in the final minutes.
3. Otto Porter sinks Syracuse: In the last meeting between Syracuse and Georgetown in the Carrier Dome as members of the Big East, Otto Porter sent 35,000 orange-clad fans home disappointed. The Georgetown forward scored a career-high 33 points on 12 of 19 shooting, a sterling late-February performance made all the more impressive by how poorly everyone else shot in the Hoyas' 56-45 win. Porter accounted for 63 percent of Georgetown's field goals since the rest of his teammates were a miserable 7 of 42 from the field against Syracuse's vaunted zone.
4. Kendall Williams' career night: The best game of Kendall Williams' college career coincided with the biggest regular season game New Mexico played. Williams sank 10 threes and went off for 46 points to lead the Lobos to a 91-82 victory that snapped Colorado State's 27-game home winning streak and gave his team a two-game lead in the Mountain West race. What was most impressive about Williams' game was what he did after returning with four fouls and the Lobos trailing 70-64 with six minutes to play. He tallied 18 of his points in that span to help New Mexico outscore the Rams 27-12 to end the game.
5. Nate Wolters erupts for 53: It's fitting that the highest-scoring performance of often-overlooked Nate Wolters' career came in front of a crowd of roughly 500 at IPFW. The South Dakota State star lit up the scoreboard for a school record 53 points on Feb. 8, most by any Division I player this season. Only 5 of 12 from the field for a modest 15 points at halftime, Wolters caught fire early in the second half. He scored 38 points in the second half alone and finished 17 of 28 from the field, rallying the Jackrabbits from an 11-point deficit and keeping his team in contention for the Summit League title.
6. Elijah Johnson's redemption: Three weeks after Bill Self showed a lack of trust in Elijah Johnson by claiming Kansas didn't have a point guard, the senior did everything he could to prove his coach wrong. Johnson sank the game-tying free throws with five seconds left in regulation at Iowa State on Feb. 26 and scored 11 of his career-high 39 points in overtime to lead Kansas to a come-from-behind road victory. The only regret Johnson had after the game was that his final tally was 39 rather than 37. He apologized for delivering a needless transition dunk at the final buzzer instead of dribbling the clock out.
7. Doug McDermott's (potential) home finale: If McDermott opts to forgo his final season in college and enter the NBA draft, then his final home game at Creighton will surely be one of his favorite memories. In a winner-take-all regular season finale pitting the Missouri Valley Conference's co-leaders, McDermott scored a season high 41 points to propel Creighton to a convincing 91-80 victory over Wichita State. McDermott's ruthlessly efficient 15 of 18 shooting was a product both of his own hot hand and his teammates' ability to knock down open looks. Wichita State couldn't double McDermott because the Bluejays shot an almost unfathomable 70.2 percent from the field as a team.
8. Phil Pressey's passing clinic: Entering a late-December matchup with UCLA, Missouri guard Phil Pressey's career high for assists was 12. Somehow, he equaled that by halftime against the Bruins. Destroying the UCLA defense with dribble penetration, pinpoint passes and deft finishing touch around the rim, Pressey scored 19 points and dished out 19 assists, three shy of the NCAA all-time assists mark set by Southern's Avery Johnson. Pressey's career-best game would be higher on this list were it not for two factors: His team lost in overtime and he had several late turnovers that contributed to the outcome.
9. Kelly Olynyk's perfect night: Of all the brilliant games Kelly Olynyk had this season for Gonzaga, the all-American forward was never better than against BYU on Jan. 23. Olynyk scored 26 points without missing a single shot, sinking 9 of 9 from the field and 8 of 8 from the foul line in an 83-63 Zags rout. The West Coast Conference player of the year also grabbed nine rebounds, dished out five assists and did an effective job protecting the rim. It was the type of efficient night that affirmed Olynyk's status as a likely first-round pick this June.
10. Michael Lyons' bittersweet 45: All Michael Lyons could talk about after his 45-point effort against Colorado State was the mistakes Air Force made that prevented a victory. All anyone else could talk about, however, was how impressive Lyons had been. Lyons kept his team competitive against a more talented opponent in an 89-86 loss, knocking down six threes and hitting 11 of 12 shots from inside the arc against a defense designed to stop teams from driving. No other player from Air Force had more than 11 points in the game.
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