Kevin O'Neill, Jio Fontan

Pregame Shootaround 12.3.12: A quiet Monday night

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will be posted at 2 p.m. ET and lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Game of the Night: USC at Nebraska, 8:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network): This is how you know it’s a quiet night: the best game of the night pits a 3-3 USC team against Nebraska, who you can probably pencil in as a double-digit seed in the Big Ten tournament. The intrigue here lies with USC. The Trojans were a team that a lot of people thought could make some noise in the Pac-12 this season, but with a month of the season gone, they have wins over a Long Beach State team that is missing three players, a Texas team without Myck Kabongo, and Coppin State. Throw in a home loss to San Diego State in a game the Aztecs were essentially missing two starters and a 30 point loss to Illinois out in Maui, and the Trojans could really use a win on the road tonight.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 23 San Diego State: I have to pick someone, and I don’t think that Syracuse is losing at home to Eastern Michigan, so the Aztecs it is. Chase Tapley and Deshawn Stephens are banged up and Texas Southern is fresh off of taking Colorado to double-overtime last week. Keep an eye on Omar Strong. He had 39 points in that loss to Colorado.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: Long Beach State at Fresno State: Eight days ago, Peter Pappageorge scored 23 points to give the 49ers a win over the Bulldogs, and while it will be interesting to see if Fresno State can put together a rebuttal, this matchup is nothing but a tease. Braeden Anderson, the former Kansas-signee, still isn’t eligibile for Fresno State, while LBSU is waiting on Keala King and Tony Freeland to get eligible.

Five things to watch for:

1. Syracuse hosts Eastern Michigan, who is coached by former Cuse assistant Rob Murphy and counts former Syracuse player Da’Shonte Riley as their leading rebounder.

2. That Syracuse-EMU game also happens to be the only one of the night that features two teams above .500.

3. MEAC plays gets started! Defending champ Norfolk State heads to South Carolina State.

4. There are five teams — Tennessee Tech, Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville, VMI and McNeese State — playing non-Division I opponents. Will we see any upsets?

5. Long Beach State and Fresno State have now played twice in eight days after going 20 years without playing each other.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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.