University of Louisville's Gorgui Dieng dunks the ball over top University of Kentucky's Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer during the first half of play in their NCAA basketball game a Yum! Center in Louisville

No. 4 Louisville outlasts Kentucky in foul-plagued rivalry rematch

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Kansas survived Ohio State in last week’s Final Four rematch, but the tables were turned in Louisville’s 80-77 triumph over their in-state rivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

Russ Smith picked up his fourth foul with over nine minutes remaining in the second half, joining Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva on the bench in similar straits. Despite the looming disqualification of Louisville’s Big Three, the Cards continued to play aggressively and survived to claim the win in the renewal of the Battle of the Bluegrass.

The fact that it came down to fouls may tip a clever reader off to the fact that it also came down to foul shots. Therein lies the rub for Calipari-coached teams, and the beat went on at the free throw line. The Wildcats shot better from the floor (48.3%) than they did from the line (47.8%). The mega-athletic Willie Cauley-Stein had a particularly awful night at the line, missing all four of his freebies.

Siva scored 19 before his fifth foul sent him permanently to the bench with :35 left, but teammates Russ Smith (21 points) and Gorgui Dieng (6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) were able to stay on the court until the final buzzer. Dieng was playing his first game back from a hand injury that held him out of the past seven games, and he was playing — for the first time in his college career — in front of his parents, who flew in from Senegal for the big rivalry game.

Kentucky got solid play from Ryan Harrow (17 points), Archie Goodwin (22 points) and Kyle Wiltjer (14). The Wildcats played more of a finesse game, however, which was often brought up short by the physical pounding laid on by the Cardinals. Russ Smith and Chane Behanan (20 points) combined for six steals, and Louisville threw several traps and screens at the younger Wildcats throughout the game. Nonetheless, Harrow upheld his end of the bargain, as pointed out by regional radio host Larry Glover:

While Kentucky is improving, the team concept has yet to completely gel, obviously. Louisville continues to struggle to score at times, but with Dieng back, they’ll stay on the road to the Final Four until someone is able to knock them off course.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor and tweets @stfhoops.

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.