USA Basketball

United States World University Games team bounces back, blows out Norway

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In the aftermath of its loss to Canada, the United States World University Games team knew that it could finish no better than ninth at the games. In some cases, not having a medal to play for can result in a team putting forth a less than satisfactory effort.

Bob McKillop’s team had no such issues in its first consolation bracket game Sunday, as the Americans blew out Norway by the final score of 91-51. Indiana senior wing Will Sheehey led the way offensively with 16 points, while forwards Aaron White (Iowa) and Cory Jefferson (Baylor) chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds apiece.

“When you lose two in a row and are knocked out of the medal round, it’s tough to get off the mat, and these guys showed that they are capable of that today,” McKillop said after the game according to USA Basketball. “They showed it by their unselfishness and their team defense.”

Outside of VCU’s Treveon Graham, who missed the game and will sit out the remainder of the tournament after suffering a minor concussion, every United States player who saw action scored and 29 of the team’s 34 made field goals were of the assisted variety.

Among the other standouts for the U.S. on Sunday were Creighton’s Doug McDermott (ten points), Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie (team-high eight assists with no turnovers) and New Mexico big man Alex Kirk (team-high eight rebounds).

“We started having fun again, and I think that’s important because everyone was starting to hit shots and getting open dunks,” said Kirk. “That’s what’s fun, and that’s why you play basketball, to have fun with it. I think that kind of got the energy going, and then our bench came through. The second-set sparked that, so that was a lot of fun.”

Three players finished the game with at least six assists, with Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell (seven) and Louisville’s Luke Hancock (six) joining Dinwiddie. After a tight first quarter the U.S. took control, with their 64.3% shooting inside of the arc proving to be one of the keys to victory.

Next up for the U.S. is a matchup with Germany on Monday morning.

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.