Roquez Johnson, Mike Rosario

Mississippi State suspends Roquez Johnson indefinitely

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I’m not sure how much worse Rick Ray’s first season in Starkville can get.

After a mountain of injuries and suspensions for his team, Mississippi State can add another to it with the indefinite suspension of forward Roquez Johnson, according to The Associated Press. Johnson was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Johnson joins junior guard Jalen Steele on the ‘currently suspended’ list for the Bulldogs, who have lost 10 straight games, a streak that began in January with a loss to 75-43 loss to Alabama at home. Mississippi State plays at Alabama on Wednesday.

A 6-7 sophomore, Johnson is averaging 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in the 23 contests he’s played in for the 7-17 Bulldogs, who are 2-10 in the SEC.

I mean, come on, what else is there left for Mississippi State this season? DeAndre Applewhite and Jacoby Davis were lost to torn ACLs earlier this season (and preseason), along with countless other injuries and now both Steele, the lone true contributor that returned to Starkville this season, and Johnson, one of the team’s leading rebounders, are suspended until further notice.

With the loss of Johnson, Craig Sword will be forced to carry even more of the load for Mississippi State. He had 25 points in Saturday’s loss to LSU. Expect Gavin Ware and Colin Borchert to step up and increase their minutes down the stretch in the post. Because, really, there all the Bulldogs have left in terms of consistent talent at the forward position.

You’ve just got to feel for Ray. This is Rick Stansbury’s team he inherited and a lot of the guys that were left over just weren’t that talented or don’t seem to want to cooperate with his rules.

It’s safe to say this season just needs to end for the Bulldogs.

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.