La Salle

La Salle outlasts furious Kansas State rally to score upset

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La Salle snuck into the NCAA tournament as a No. 13 seed in the First Four in Dayton on Selection Sunday. Less than a week later, it now has two NCAA tournament victories, including a big upset over a BCS-conference opponent, and is headed to the Round of 32.

Jerrell Wright had 21 points and eight rebounds as the No. 13-seeded La Salle Explorers upset No. 4 Kansas State, 63-61, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

La Salle grew its lead to as many as 19 points in the first half by doing a lot of the same things it did in its First Four win over Boise State. Guards Ramon Galloway and Sam Mills were able to find open shots on the perimeter off of dribble penetration and ball movement. Galloway finished with 19 points and four assists and Mills added 10 points. They were complemented on the interior by Wright, who was bullying what appeared to be a less active Kansas State front line.

The Explorers carried an 18-point lead into halftime, but the game changed in the second half.

Kansas State center Jordan Henriquez, who had been less of a factor in the first half, shined in the second. His presence around the rim deterred the four-guard La Salle set and kept the Explorers from getting good dribble penetration. The Kansas State defense also rotated much more effectively in the second and kept a defender’s hand in the face of most La Salle three-point shooters. Henriquez finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The Explorers made just three field goals in the entire second half and were outscored, 35-19, in the final 20 minutes. They went without a field goal for the final 7:55 of game time. Wright made 7-of-8 free throws in the last 6:04, which accounted for La Salle’s only scoring down the stretch. His presence on the interior in the second half is the reason La Salle was able to keep its head above water when Kansas State neutralized the Explorer guards.

Also, consider this from CSNPhilly.com:

In the span of three days, La Salle has won as many NCAA tournament games as it won in the previous 57 years combined.

La Salle now moves on to play Ole Miss in the Round of 32 after the Rebels beat No. 5-seeded Wisconsin earlier in the day Friday. That sets the stage for a matchup between polarizing Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson and this strong collection of backcourt players for La Salle.

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.