Victor Oladipo

Pregame Shootaround 1.20.13: Indiana, NC State only Top 25 teams in action Sunday

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Game of the Day: No. 2 Indiana vs. Northwestern (1:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Indiana suffered a tough conference loss to Wisconsin, when the Badgers came into Assembly Hall and held the Hoosiers to 37 percent shooting. Cody Zeller excelled with 23 points, but the rest of the team struggled to find its rhythm against Bo Ryan’s team. Sunday should bring different fortunes for Tom Crean’s team. Against a Northwestern team that both struggles to score the ball and hit the glass hard, Zeller and Victor Oladipo should be able to set the pace. Look for the Hoosier bench to step up after scoring just two points against Wisconsin.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Iona vs. Rider (2:00 p.m. ET)

Rider was without guard Nurideen Lindsey in its win over St. Peter’s on Thursday due to concussion. On Saturday, he said via Twitter that he was taking part in a workout to try to return, meaning his status is uncertain for Sunday’s game against MAAC rival Iona. If Lindsey is not in the lineup, it will take away a key Broncs’ scoring option against one of the nation’s highest scoring teams. The backcourt duo of former Arizona guard Momo Jones and junior Sean Armand together average 41 points per game for Iona.

Five Things to Watch For

1) Victor Oladipo is becoming just as important as Cody Zeller for the Hoosiers as the season progresses. His versatility changes th complexion of the Indiana offense and gives the Hoosiers another legitimate go-to scoring option. Coach Tom Crean’s team should have no problem with Northwestern on Sunday.

2) After beating Duke last weekend, NC State suffered a letdown loss against Maryland on the road. If the Wolfpack can get out and run in Sunday’s matchup with Clemson, they could have a solid bounce-back win.

3) After a strong relatively strong non-conference showing that included close losses to Louisville and Northwestern, Illinois State is 0-6 in Missouri Valley play. They take on Southern Illinois on Sunday.

4) It may not be as highly touted as the Army-Navy football game, but the Army-Navy basketball game takes play Sunday. Keep an eye on Navy freshman guard Tilman Dunbar. A quick, low-to-the-ground point guard, he is the team’s leading points and assists man and should have a strong four-year career with the Midshipmen.

5) Northern Iowa was close with No. 12 Creighton early in the second half before losing its footing earlier this week. In that game, Anthony James had 25 points. Look for him to be the focus again on Sunday vs. Drake.

The Top 25

No. 2 Indiana vs. Northwestern (1:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 14 NC State vs. Clemson (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Other Notable Games

Navy vs. Army (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Illinois State vs. Southern Illinois (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

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.