NCAA Scores 2012: 6 Players That Lit Up the Scoreboard

Jesse Kramer@Jesse_KramerCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2012

NCAA Scores 2012: 6 Players That Lit Up the Scoreboard

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    The first full day of the 2012 NCAA Tournament provided a fair share of excitement and close games, and it also gave a number of players a chance to shine on the national stage. Rodney McGruder of Kansas State and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State both reached the 30-point plateau while a few other players flirted with that mark but could not quite get there.

    After one day of second round action, here are the six best scoring performances from Thursday's action.

Rodney McGruder, Kansas State

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    Rodney McGruder was already in the midst of a breakout season entering Thursday's game with Southern Miss. After averaging 3.9 points per game his freshman year and then 11.1 last year, the junior led Kansas State in scoring this season with 15.7 per game.

    On Thursday, McGruder broke onto the tournament scene with a 30-point performance against the ninth-seeded Golden Eagles on 11-of-16 shooting. 18 of his points came in the first half as the Wildcats built a three-point lead at intermission. 

    In addition, McGruder added four rebounds and four steals as his squad advanced to the third round, where they will play the Fab Melo-less Syracuse Orange.

Jae Crowder, Marquette

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    Jae Crowder won the 2012 Big East Player of the Year Award, yet there are still plenty of people that do not know much about senior. The 6'6" forward averaged 17.4 points per game this year and 8.1 rebounds per game, and he made quite a splash in Marquette's blowout win over Brigham Young in the second round on Thursday.

    Crowder picked up his 13th double-double of the year with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 16 rebounds. In addition, he had four rebounds and four steals. 17 of Crowder's points came as the Golden Eagles built up their double-digit lead in the first half.

    Darius Johnson-Odom also put together a strong scoring performance for Marquette in its opening game with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting.

Jake Cohen, Davidson

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    Davidson won't be making any Cinderella runs this year after losing to No. 4 seed Louisville in the second round on Thursday, but Wildcat big man Jake Cohen did get a chance to shine on the national stage in the defeat.

    Cohen posted 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Cardinals, shooting 9-of-19 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. His season ended with the loss, but he is only a junior, so he will be playing in red and white for one more year.

John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt finally ended its NCAA tournament woes by defeating Harvard, 79-70, yesterday. The Commodores had gone to the Big Dance and were highly-seeded in three of the previous four seasons, but each times they were upset in their first game.

    The Vanderbilt program can thank junior guard John Jenkins for giving the Commodores some postseason credibility this year.

    In the win over the Ivy League champs on Thursday, Jenkins drilled in 27 points, knocking down 7-of-12 shots from the field and 10-of-13 free throws. He is known for his three-point shooting ability, but he only shot 3-of-8 from deep against the Crimson.

    After Harvard made one last push in the second half and cut the deficit to five points, Jenkins drained all six of his free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.

Terrence Jones, Kentucky

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    Most of the hype surrounding Kentucky this season has been about freshman studs Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, but Terrence Jones grabbed some attention in Kentucky's second round game against Western Kentucky by leading all scorers with 22 points.

    Jones managed to shoot extremely efficiently, making 9-of-13 shots from the field. 15 of his points came in the first half on 7-of-9 shooting.

    We'll see if Jones can put together another good performance against better competition on Saturday when Kentucky plays No. 8 seed Iowa State.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State

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    Loyola (MD) put up a pesky fight against No. 2 seed Ohio State on Thursday, but thanks to Deshaun Thomas the Buckeyes were able to advance with a 78-59 victory.

    Thomas posted a career-high 31 points against the Greyhounds, shooting 13-of-22 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He exploded for 17 of his points in the second half as Ohio State pulled away from Loyola for the win.