Jim Boeheim

10 tidbits to know: Cuse FT struggles, Bama’s youth movement

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Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.

1. As impressive as the Syracuse Orange are, free throw shooting is a major flaw with Jim Boeheim’s team.  At 64% they are one of the worst from the charity stripe in the Big East.  But that was not the case last night as they shot 17-18 from the line in the 72-66 win over Providence.  But I’m concerned that this weakness could bite them one game in March.  Remember their one loss this year vs Temple?  15 missed free throws.

2. How about the bounce back of Duke’s Quinn Cook this week.  A career high 27 points in the Blue Devils win over Clemson.  Cook went 0-11 from the field in the prior game against Wake Forest.

3. At only 8-6 right now it’s easy to not take notice of the Alabama Crimson Tide — but this team is going to scare some people by February.  They keep improving and Anthony Grant is in the middle of a serious youth movement.  Don’t schedule them next year.  Bama currently starts one junior, three sophomores and one freshman.

4. It was a tough 58-56 loss at Madison Square Garden for St. John’s last night by the hands of Rutgers.  But no time for the Red Storm to feel sorry for themselves.  They battle in less than 48 hours Saturday morning vs Georgetown at the Garden.  The Hoyas and St. John’s tip-off at 11:00 am.

5. If you Google efficient point guard, Pierre Jackson from Baylor should pop up — 19.8 ppg – 6.3 assists – 3.6 rebs – 44% from the field – 36% from 3 – 80% from FT Line.

6. Speaking of point guard play, Seton Hall is a team that has taken a lot of knocks this season for turning over the basketball so often. But Kevin Willard’s young guards can build off last night’s Louisville loss.  The Cardinals force turnovers better than any club in the nation.  Credit Pirates Tommy Maayan and Aaron Cosby for combining for only six turnovers in 54 combined minutes of play.

7. Did you realize that Steve Alford is only 47 years old and has 369 Division 1 wins already?  78 at Southwest Missouri, 152 at Iowa and 139 wins and counting at New Mexico.

8. Despite the disappointing 11 point home loss to Boston College, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green still leads the nation in scoring at 24.6 points per game.

9. Georgetown was not only ice cold offensively in their 73-45 home loss to Pitt, but they could not manufacture points either.  Two great ways to manufacture points are pounding the glass and causing turnovers.  The Hoyas only had 7 offensive rebounds and only 2 steals in the worst home loss of the John Thompson III era.

10. Here’s a great office pool for the rest of the season –  Who will lead the nation in blocked shots when it’s all over?  Jeff Withey from Kansas or Chris Obekpa from St. John’s?  They are both currently averaging 5.07 blocks per game.

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports. You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise

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.