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USA falls to Australia at World University Games, 93-84

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After winning each of its first three games at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia by double digits, the United States ran into significant resistance in the form of Australia on Thursday.

Armed with five players who have experience on Australia’s senior men’s national team, the Australians won by the final score of 93-84 with two names that should be familiar to college basketball fans sticking out.

Cameron Bairstow, who will be a senior at New Mexico next season, accounted for 22 points (11-for-18 FG), nine rebounds and five assists while Ryan Broekhoff (who just completed his career at Valparaiso) added 12 points and ten rebounds for Australia (3-1). Ultimately, however, it would be Jason Cadee who proved to be the difference for the Aussies.

Cadee scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, which helped Australia erase a five-point deficit (64-59) on their way to moving into a tie for second place in group play.

“We had the five-point lead as we entered the fourth quarter and then I think we just struggled defensively,” United States head coach Bob McKillop said. “We struggled to defend screens, we struggled to limit them to one shot, we struggled to contain penetration and the struggle on the defensive end carried forward on the offensive end where we rushed things too much because we became in a hurry to score rather than stay within the framework of the system.”

Creighton’s Doug McDermott led the Americans with 22 points, and Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie added 14. Also in double figures for the United States were Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who scored ten points apiece. Neither BYU’s Tyler Haws nor New Mexico’s Alex Kirk saw action in Thursday’s game.

Next up for coach McKillop’s team is their group finale against Canada (4-0) on Friday, with the United States needing a win by ten points or more to reach the medal round if there’s a three-way tie for first. If there’s a three-way tie, the recipients of the two medal round spots is determined by point differential in the games between the three teams.

Australia takes on the United Arab Emirates (the United States beat them 140-46 in the opener), so a three-way tie is likely a safe bet.

Raphielle 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.