So much for all that Texas A&M talk.
Four days after going into Lexington and earning a win against Kentucky, Texas A&M was set to host a beat up Florida team with a chance to really make a statement to the folks that put together bubble projections.
So what did the Aggies do?
Lost by 21. Of course.
Mike Rosario caught fire early, Florida pulled away late in the first half, and the Gators threw it into cruise control over the last 20 minutes, eventually winning by a final margin of 68-47.
It makes you wonder: who was that Texas A&M team that found their way into Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon? And what got into Elston Turner that night? Because after lighting up the Wildcats for 40 points, he managed all of four points on 1-10 shooting on Thursday night against Florida.
And it’s not like the Gators are an overwhelming favorite to win the national title, either. They’re a good team, one that defends really well and can be dangerous on the nights that Kenny Boynton and Rosario are hitting their jumpers. But they’re pretty accurately ranked at No. 10.
Beyond that, they are dealing with enough injuries that make you wonder whether or not Will Muschamp is running practices: Erik Murphy has a rib injury; Scottie Wilbekin has a broken finger; Will Yeguete has a knee issue; Casey Prather isn’t even playing while he deals with a high-ankle sprain.
Maybe that gap between Kentucky and the teams at the top of the SEC is bigger than we thought, and that’s a major problem.
Because the Wildcats are probably going to have to win two of the three games they play against Missouri and Florida this season.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
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:
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.