Sheldon McClellan

Two important happenings result in Texas knocking off Iowa State

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Wednesday night marked the season debut for Texas sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo, who was suspended for 23 games by the NCAA for not being up front from the start in regards to how expenses for a weekend of workouts in Ohio were handled.

But given the Longhorns’ lack of success this season (and the presence of bigger games on the national schedule) his return didn’t receive the widespread publicity that would normally come in such circumstances. So Kabongo’s return led to Texas’ 89-86 double overtime win over Iowa State, right?

While Kabongo’s return was important to a team in dire need of a steadying influence, Wednesday night didn’t happen solely because of his presence. In fact, Kabongo wasn’t on the floor when a development just as big took place.

With Kabongo having fouled out Rick Barnes needed someone to take over offensively in the second overtime period, and that’s exactly what sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan did.

McClellan scored all ten of Texas’ points in the second overtime and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, snapping out of an offensive funk that lasted the better part of three weeks. McClellan’s effort, which has been inconsistent, wasn’t an issue Wednesday and Texas reaped the rewards as a result.

“A lot of the criticism has just made me better and made me stronger. I don’t take it personally,” said McClellan following the game. “I know Coach loves me and wants me to be the best player I can be. He gave me credit today. He told me I had a good game and showed good effort.”

McClellan may be leading the Longhorns in scoring in Big 12 play (13.5 ppg) but he’s struggled percentage-wise, shooting 39.5% from the field and 22.2% from beyond the arc. Against the Cyclones, McClellan didn’t make a three-pointer (0-of-3) but he finished 5-of-10 from the field.

Before last night’s win Texas’ lone Big 12 victories came at the expense of Texas Tech and TCU, so to expect them to win at No. 14 Kansas on Saturday (even though they lost the first meeting by just five points) would be silly even with Kabongo back in the fold.

However there’s no denying that Wednesday brought about two developments that should make Texas a better team over the final seven games: the return of their point guard and Sheldon McClellan displaying the consistency that had been lacking for much of Big 12 play.

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.