Indiana Michigan State

Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Indiana gets a big win, Miami shows its versatility

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Game of the Day: No. 1 Indiana 72. No. 4 Michigan State 68

Indiana made a statement Tuesday night with a win over a quality Michigan State team. The Hoosiers worked to break down the Spartans’ defense and, with another Player of the Year-type performance from Victor Oladipo, held their ground in the Big Ten on the road.

The Indiana defense took Michigan State point guard Keith Appling out of the game and forced the offensive pressure on Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. That was enough for grind out a win Tuesday. Cody Zeller continues to be consistent and finished with 17 points and five rebounds.

Important Outcomes

1. Missouri 63, No. 5 Florida 60

Missouri needed a win like this. The Tigers still haven’t had success away from home and have their fair share of flaws, but a resume-building win like this Tuesday night is what helps NCAA bubble teams fall on the right side of the fence, come Selection Sunday. Florida’s Kenny Boynton took a questionable three-pointer when the Gators trailed by just one, but a win is a win for Missouri.

2. No. 2 Miami 54, Virginia 50

Miami is perhaps most dangerous because it has proven that it can still win games, regardless of the pace at which the opponent tries to force it to play. If the Hurricanes are hot from the floor, they can reach into the 70s. If a team like Virginia or Clemson tries to slow the game down and grind it out, Miami can win anyway. That versatility in March is key.

3. Saint Louis 76, No. 24 VCU 62

Virginia Commonwealth and Butler have been in the spotlight for much of the season, but this Saint Louis team has now beaten both at home in dominating fashion. The biggest test will come on Friday when the Billikens travel on the road to meet Butler again with the top of the conference at stake.

Starred

1. Victor Oladipo, Indiana (19 points, 7-of-11 FG, 9 rebounds, 5 steals)

Oladipo continues to build his case for National Player of the Year as the do-it-all engine behind No. 1 Indiana’s attack. As important as Cody Zeller is, this Indiana team is not the elite team that it is without Oladipo in the lineup and producing as he has been.

2. T.J. Warren, NC State (31 points, 13 rebounds)

NC State needed this win at home to hold its ground in the ACC race. Warren’s dominating performance sparked a Wolfpack offensive attack that put up 84 points. The rest of the NC State regular season schedule is favorable, but that also means there is little room to slip up and lose ground.

3. Jordan McRae, Tennessee (34 points, 13-of-18 FG, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Tennessee is likely an NIT team, but McRae’s performance in a win over LSU cannot go unnoticed. he was efficient from the floor and hot from behind the arc with 6-of-6 shooting from three.

More of Note: Tristan Carey, Longwood (40 points, 12 rebounds) | Olivier Hanlan, Boston College (26 points, 7 rebounds)

Struggled

1. Keith Appling, Michigan State (6 points, 1-of-8 FG, 4 TOs)

Appling’s recent struggles are likely because of a combination of things, including a heavy load of minutes and the absence of injured backup Travis Trice. Michigan State needs Appling back on track either scoring or distributing (or both) for the start of March.

2. Alex Len, Maryland (4 points, 1-of-5 FG, Fouled Out)

Len had foul troubles and was unable to get in a groove offensively against a Boston College team that Maryland needed to beat to keep its NCAA hopes alive. Without this win, Maryland can ultimately say goodbye to its NCAA tournament aspirations.

3. Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois (5 points, 1-of-9 FG, 3 TOs)

Southern Illinois needed Jackson to contribute in order to beat one of the conference’s best teams, but Jackson had trouble finding his shooting stroke.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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.