North Carolina v North Carolina State

N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown ‘unlikely’ to play Saturday against No. 14 Miami

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In the first half of No. 19 N.C. State’s 58-55 loss at Virginia Wednesday night, junior point guard Lorenzo Brown went down with a sprained left ankle and did not return.

And it looks as if the Wolfpack will be without his services on Saturday when they host No. 14 Miami Saturday afternoon, as head coach Mark Gottfried stated on Friday that it’s “unlikely” that Brown will be available.

To say the least this would be a big loss for the Wolfpack, as Brown currently leads the ACC in assists (6.9 apg) while also averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. If Brown is unable to go N.C. State will most likely go with two freshmen at the point, alternating starter Rodney Purvis and reserve Tyler Lewis.

Purvis is certainly gifted with the basketball in his hands, averaging 9.6 points and 1.7 assists per game in 19 starts, and Lewis arrived in Raleigh touted as one of the best distributors in the freshman class. But neither saw a great deal of time at the point with a healthy Brown playing just over 33 minutes per game.

With the Hurricanes limiting opponents to 37% shooting and forcing 12.8 turnovers per game this would be a significant challenge for both players. And that’s not even factoring the task of guarding Shane Larkin (12.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Durand Scott (13.8 ppg, 2.9 apg) into the equation.

In addition to Brown’s offensive qualities he can make life difficult for opponents on the other end as well due to his 6-5 frame, and he’s second in the ACC with an average of 2.1 steals per game. So who would draw the assignment of guarding Larkin if Brown can’t go? According to David Morrison of the Greensboro News-Record Purvis may end up being the choice.

The Wolfpack’s best bet is probably to utilize the 6-3 Purvis at the point against 5-11 Miami guard Shane Larkin.

Larkin’s got the speed edge on Purvis, but the Wolfpack freshman does have four inches on him. Larkin could be a handful on defense for Purvis, who hasn’t been tasked with ballhandling duties much this season. Larkin’s the only ACC player with more steals per game than Brown.

N.C. State needs a win on Saturday afternoon if they’re to have any chance of winning their first ACC regular season title since 1989, but having to deal with Brown’s injury in addition to three conference losses may end up being too much to overcome.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

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.