Jahii Carson

Pregame Shootaround 12.12.12: Memorable date with forgettable match-ups

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will 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:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: DePaul vs. Arizona State

Really? Yes, and here’s why. This match-up is the only one Wednesday that features two BCS conference schools. Would you rather tune in to see No. 7 Ohio State likely take care of Savannah State early? Perhaps. But individuals are the ones who make DePaul-Arizona State worthwhile.

Point guard Jahii Carson has completely transformed the way the Sun Devils play offense this season. Last year, Herb Sendek’s team finished 305th in the nation with just 61.0 points per game. This year, with Carson running the point and pushing the offense, the Sun Devils are ranked 29th in the country with 79.0 points per game.

On the other side, Cleveland Melvin is another major asset on a team that has struggled in recent years. He’s averaging 18.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Towson vs. Temple

The slate is pretty dry Wednesday night on quality mid-major match-ups, so Towson vs. Temple is your best bet. The Tigers are coming off a game against Georgetown that was about as ugly as they come, and they came up six points short. They now travel to Temple, which was handed its first loss of the season to Duke over the weekend.

Scootie Randall was unable to get going for Temple against Duke, but expects the Owls’ leading scorer to bounce back against Towson. Khalif Wyatt also struggled, shooting just 3-of-15 from the floor in the loss.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Point guard Jahii Carson has completely revitalized the Arizona State offense and he faces off against Cleveland Melvin and DePaul tonight. (See above).

2) Ohio State is the lone ranked team in action Wednesday night. They take on Savannah State. Who will be the second scoring option alongside Deshaun Thomas?

3) Since losing its season opener to Kentucky, Maryland has won eight in a row. Alex Len continues to look like a lottery pick. He matches up with Monmouth Wednesday.

4) After beating Kentucky, Baylor stumbled with a loss to Northwestern. They have a chance to bounce back against in-state rival Lamar, who is just 1-8 this season after making the NCAA tournament in 2011-12.

5) Wisconsin lost a tough in-state game to Marquette on Saturday. Freshman Sam Dekker was just 2-of-10 in that game. See if he bounces back against Green Bay.

The Rest of the Top 25:

No. 7 Ohio State vs. Savannah State

Other Notable Games 

Colorado vs. Fresno State

Monmouth vs. Maryland

Green Bay vs. Wisconsin

Lamar vs. Baylor

Oregon State vs. Portland State

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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.