Ben Brust, Bak Bak

Wisconsin bounces back from Wednesday’s defeat, whips California 81-56

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Toughness was the focal point of the Wisconsin Badgers’ postgame comments following their 60-54 loss to Virginia in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last week, with head coach Bo Ryan and the players lamenting the missed opportunities.

“There were so many opportunities where there were loose balls and it seemed like every time we were close to getting a big stop, the ball would bounce around and end up in their hands,” said forward Jared Berggren following the defeat.

“Those were just toughness plays that we didn’t make tonight and we’ve got to get back and get better at moving forward.”

It’s safe to say that the issue was addressed in the days leading up to Sunday’s matchup with California, a game in which the Badgers (4-3) jumped out quickly and rolled to an 81-56 victory. Ben Brust led the way with 22 points and Berggren added 18 and eight rebounds as Wisconsin got back on track and handed the Golden Bears (6-1) their first loss of the season.

Wisconsin made 51.7% of their shots and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, which led to an 18-7 edge in second chance points. And the Badgers were solid defensively as well, limiting Cal to 38.3% shooting while also forcing 23 turnovers.

The turnover count was not only a season-high for Mike Montgomery’s team but also nearly ten more than their average (13.7) entering Sunday. Allen Crabbe led Cal, which was playing its first game since winning the DirecTV Classic, with 25 points but backcourt partner Justin Cobbs was held in check by Wisconsin.

Cobbs, who entered the game averaging 20.0 points per game and shooting 63.5% from the field, was limited to 11 points and shot 3-of-11 from the field.

To say the least this was quite the response for a Wisconsin squad that struggled offensively and on the glass against Virginia on Wednesday night. Point guard Traevon Jackson may not have scored in his second start of the season but his value as a defender was on display in the matchup with Cobbs.

After Wednesday’s defeat it was clear in their postgame comments that Wisconsin wasn’t pleased with their display in that important intangible. Sunday’s performance was without a doubt a step in the right direction.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.