The 2015-16 college basketball regular season is in full swing, and what a season it has been already. Night in and night out, any team is truly capable of knocking off anyone, making the season that much more exciting. Upsets have been aplenty this season, and more are bound to come over the course of the 2015-16 season.
Each day, we will hand out some awards for the top three individual performances from the night before. They could be freshmen or experienced seniors, and they could come from the smallest mid-major programs or the top teams in the country. Each night, there are big performances that are critical for their respective teams.
Here are the top three individual performances for Tuesday, December 8th!
1. Rico Gathers – Baylor Bears
Game Result: Baylor 75, Northwestern State 62
Stat Line: 31 points, 21 rebounds, 1 block, 12-of-20 shooting
Every time Rico Gathers steps onto the court for a practice or a game, we are all reminded as to why he is one of the nation’s premier big men. He is as close to a lock for a double-double on any night that you’ll find in the NCAA, and he put together another jaw-dropping performance on Tuesday night. Against an undersized Northwestern State Demons team, Gathers went off for 31 points and 21 rebounds in the Bears’ 75-62 victory. It was his fourth-straight double-double performance, and fifth of the season. Baylor is a top contender in the Big 12 this season, and Gathers is a big reason for their early-season success.
2. Paul Jesperson – Northern Iowa Panthers
Game Result: Northern Iowa 73, George Mason 65
Stat Line: 19 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 5-of-11 shooting
With the departure of Seth Tuttle in the front court following last season, the Northern Iowa Panthers are deploying a four-guard system this season. This means that their guards will be relied on to put up the points on offense, but also be a factor on the glass on defense, and that’s where Paul Jesperson steps in. On Tuesday night, he scored 19 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds in the Panthers’ 73-65 road win over George Mason. The lack of a front court presence hasn’t hurt the Panthers so far, as they sit at 6-2 on the season. The play of Jesperson has been a big reason why, and he will be relied on to keep the Panthers near the top of the Missouri Valley this season.
3. Jake Bittle – South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Game Result: South Dakota State 84, Minnesota 70
Stat Line: 25 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 10-of-14 shooting
After Tuesday night, you can add another marquee non-conference win to the resume of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, and another point for mid-major programs everywhere. South Dakota State went on the road to take on Minnesota, and game away with the massive 84-70 win, thanks in large part to the play of star guard Jake Bittle. He put up a game-high 25 points, on 10-of-14 shooting, to go along with 3 rebounds and 5 assists in the win. The Jackrabbits are now 8-1 on the season, and look like the clear front-runner in the Summit League race this season.