Duke v Louisville

Duke runs out of answers in second half against Louisville

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Despite 10 first-half turnovers and three fouls for senior forward Ryan Kelly the Duke Blue Devils trailed Louisville by just three points at the half, 35-32. With those two facts in mind the Blue Devils had to like their chances against the tournament’s top overall seed.

But after a solid start to the second half Duke found itself on the wrong end of a dominant performance, as their struggles on both ends of the floor would ultimately result in an 85-63 Louisville victory.

Duke shot 32% overall and 2-of-10 from three in the second half as they were outscored 50-31 by the Cardinals. With just two second-half turnovers one would assume that the Blue Devils would be in very good shape. But even with the lack of turnovers the ball ended up being funneled into positions where Duke could not hurt Louisville.

“What they do, and Rick’s done an amazing job with them, because they have depth and they keep coming at you, but they make you have multiple decision‑makers,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “You have to have more than one guy making a decision out on the court.

“And in switching their defenses and their quickness and their athleticism, you have to‑‑ it’s tough to run plays.  You have to make plays against them.”

As for the other end of the floor, Louisville struggled to shoot from the perimeter (2-of-13 3PT) outside of a few mid-range jumpers from center Gorgui Dieng and a couple long twos from Peyton Siva.

But their ability to crack the Blue Devil defense and get into the paint proved to be the difference.

The Cardinals shot 59% from the field and 16-of-23 from the foul line in the second half, making 14 of their 19 shots from inside of the arc. That proved to be too much for Duke to overcome given their offensive struggles.

Duke will look to account for the graduation of Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee (not to mention assistant Chris Collins, who is the new head coach at Northwestern), and the addition of players such as Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye will help and the same goes for Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood.

On this day however, Duke simply ran into a better team.

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.