Mississippi St Tennessee Basketball

Rick Ray isn’t happy with Jalen Steele, at all

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Rick Ray has had a rough season in his first as head coach at Mississippi State. A massive amount of transfers and players going pro, a rash of injuries and a late start on recruiting led to a general lack of talent within the Bulldogs’ program this season.

And it got worse when the team announced that guard Jalen Steele was suspended indefinitely to days ago.

Well, Ray isn’t leaving it at that. Not by a long shot.

In an interview session on Monday, Ray sounded off on Steele’s suspension.

No one knows what got Steele suspended. But whatever it was, it was enough for Ray to avoid the “internal matter” cliche and go straight to putting his lone returning consistent contributor on blast for everyone to see.

I don’t blame Ray. It’s been a season where rarely anything has gone his way and I’m sure he’s getting fed up with it. He trusted Steele, who is averaging 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game this season, to be a type of leader with this team, being that he’s the only one who can truly tell you what it was like to play with Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie last year. Steele getting benched for something other than bad play has to infuriate a guy who has made Steele his bell cow this season.

And when you break it down to brass tax, that’s a statement that can be used in general. Any player that has an impact on his team’s play and attitude like Steele does is screwing with their respective team. In a season that little can go wrong if you want to at least be respectable, Steele just made it even tougher. And I’m sure Ray is the most disappointed of anyone.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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.