Mikael Hopkins, Kenny Hall

Late Night Snacks: Georgetown and Tennessee offensive struggles

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Big East swept four games on Friday night (Georgetown, Syracuse, DePaul, South Florida) to take a commanding 6-2 lead in the SEC/Big East Challenge. If you’re following conference realignment, it’s more like Big East 4, SEC 2, ACC 2 (Notre Dame and Syracuse).

Games of the Night

Syracuse 91, Arkansas 82 – The Orange were able to take it to the “Fastest 40 Minutes” earning a road win over Arkansas. James Southerland came off the bench and exploded for a school-record nine 3-pointers, en route to a career-high 35 points. The Razorbacks continued to fight, but No. 6 Cuse was too much in a face-paced game.

Georgetown 37, Tennessee 36  – For all the wrong reasons. Markel Sparks hit a jumper with 4:42 left in the game, giving the Hoyas a 37-36 lead. That would be the last time the ball would go through the hoop for either side. After an 18-16 Tennessee lead at halftime, the Vols and Hoyas had an exciting second half, as best as they could.

Important Outcomes

Kansas 84, Oregon State 79 – The Jayhawks, who have won five straight, were able to survive a pair of Beaver rallies, avoiding an upset. Kansas shot 60 percent from the floor and had five players score in double figures.

Drake 76, Nevada 66 – Drake was able to knock off Nevada, after falling to Xavier by four on Sunday. Drake has a chance for its best win of the season, next Wednesday at home against Matt Dellavedova and St. Mary’s

South Florida 64, Georgia 53 – The Bulls are quietly 5-2 following the SEC/Big East Challenge win over the Bulldogs. South Florida has a real test next Wednesday on the road against No. 15 Oklahoma State. Georgia has lost five of its last six games.

Starred

James Southerland, Syracuse – Came off the bench for a career-high 35 points, despite foul trouble that took him off the floor with 15 minutes to go, while he had 28 points.

Travis Releford and Ben McLemore, Kansas – The pair of Kansas guards both had 20 or more points (McLemore: 21 points, Releford: 20 points), helping the Jayhawks avoid an upset from the Beavers.

Cleveland Melvin – Not only did Melvin have a game-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds. The junior forward secured the win on the defensive end. Melvin came away with a steal with 13 seconds left, as the Blue Demons nursed a 78-76 led. Melivn would sink both free throws after being fouled.

Struggled

Georgetown/Tennessee offense – No shocker here. Both teams struggled to put the ball through the net in this defensive battle. Lot of ugly stats that came out of this one, including no player hitting double figures. Tennessee connected on 3-of-11 from the free throw line, while Georgetown was 1-of-7 (14 percent) from deep.

Oklahoma – The Sooners had to give everything they had to sneak out a home win against Northwestern State. Oklahoma won 69-65, but struggled offensively, shooting 39 percent from the field.

Arkansas deep ball – The Razorbacks couldn’t get the ball in the middle of the famous Syracuse 2-3 zone. The results were bad from behind the arc. Arkansas only converted on 5-of-24 3-pointers, while Southerland had nine by himself for the Orange. The senior forward also shot 9-of-13 from deep.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.