Ryan Boatright, Brandon Triche

Should Syracuse be concerned after loss to UConn?

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Getting James Southerland back was suppose to be a lift for the No. 6 Syracuse Orange. He did with 4-for-9 shooting from behind the arc for 14 points.

However the rest of the Orange shot a 0-for-14 from three, en route to 35 percent shooting night from the field. In the last game against UConn as Big East opponents, Syracuse lost 66-58 — the team’s third loss in five games.

UConn took away a lot of the Syracuse offensive. Ryan Boatright applied pressure on Michael Carter Williams, who had only one assist and four turnovers. The Huskies also held Brandon Triche, the Orange’s leading scorer with only nine points.

“Good players have bad nights,” said Jim Boeheim. “He’ll bounce back.”

Triche shot 3-of-15 from the field, thanks in large part to Napier and the UConn help defense.

“I was just trying to do as much as I can,” said Shabazz Napier on guarding Triche. “I wanted to play him with as much respect as possible, but at the same time try to stop him from doing as much as he can.”

Syracuse didn’t get many of the lob passes inside and the fastbreak was held to a screeching halt with only four transition points.

“They got a lob the first minute and I was like, ‘Oh boy,'” said Kevin Ollie. “But I don’t think they got anymore.

“To hold a team with this much talent to 35 percent, that’s big time.”

Syracuse  corralled 20 offensive rebounds, forced 18 turnovers and still lost. Granted the Huskies had a great shooting night. But the shots were created by Napier and Boatright driving the lane and finding open shooters.

“Our defense was good,” said Boeheim. “It broke down at the last second. They got the ball to the open shooters and knocked them down.

“They got a couple of good looks in the run and I thought that was the difference.”

Napier had four turnovers, while Boatright had three, however they combined for 11 assists. Defensively the duo held Carter-Williams and Triche in check, which was the key to the game.

For Syracuse, who holds a one game lead atop the Big East standings, the upcoming schedule is favorable, but only for a little bit. Following back-to-back games against Seton Hall and Providence, the Orange play No. 15 Georgetown, on the road at No. 18 Marquette and a rematch against No. 12 Louisville. Syracuse ends the season with four of the last five games against ranked opponents.

People in upstate New York may not be concerned yet with the Big East leading Orange, but they have reason to start.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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.