The story coming out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday evening had nothing to do with the basketball game being played on the floor and everything to do with honoring No. 40.
Twenty years ago Saturday, Chris Street was killed when a snow-plow struck the car that he was driving. If you don’t know the story, watch this. In short, Street was a typical Midwestern sports star: humble, hard-working and a fan favorite. He was averaging 14.5 points and 9.5 boards as a junior when he died.
Iowa honored and celebrated Street’s life at halftime, as the 20 players that have won the Chris Street Award since his passing and more than 50 members of Street’s family were in attendance. They all wore matching t-shirts that the team had on during warm-ups. A video tribute was played in the arena as well.
And you can’t help but think that the added energy and spirit in the building had something to do with what happened on the court, as the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 30-10 lead on the Badgers on Saturday night. Wisconsin hit just three of their first 19 shots from the field, digging themselves a hole that was simply too big to climb out of.
This was an enormous win for an Iowa team looking to change the direction of their program. Fran McCaffery has as much talent on the roster as the Hawkeyes have seen in a decade, and after a couple of close calls, they finally notched a win over one of the Big Ten’s elite. Aaron White led the way with 17 points and seven boards, hitting the final two free throws to seal a 70-66 win.
The outcome throws a wrench into an already-complicated Big Ten race. Wisconsin entered as the league’s last undefeated team, having knocked off Indiana in Assembly Hall on Tuesday and whooped up on Illinois in the Kohl Center last Saturday. They were playing their best basketball of the season and looked like a serious contender for the Big Ten title.
Until they rolled in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as Iowa honored a fallen member of their program.
You don’t have to be one of our more spiritual readers to see how much Saturday night’s performance resembled the move “The 6th Man”. The only difference? Chris Street was probably a better player than Kadeem Hardison.
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.