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Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Time to recharge after Tuesday’s ‘marathon’

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Florida State at UCF (7:00 p.m.; ESPN News) 

These two programs have met nine times prior to tonight’s meeting, with none of those games being played on the UCF campus. That should be enough to get the fans going, and in senior guard Isaiah Sykes the Knights have one of the best players in the American Athletic Conference. UCF returns four starters from last season’s squad, and they’ll definitely challenge Devon Bookert and the Seminoles. Okaro White led five FSU players in double figures with 18 points in their win over Jacksonville, but they’ll need to clean up the turnovers (20, with White racking up seven) tonight.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Kent State at Seton Hall (7:00 p.m.; Fox Sports 2) 

Two nights after winning at Temple the Golden Flashes look to pick up another road victory, and in order to do so Rob Senderoff will need to slow down Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin. Foul trouble limited the versatile wing on Saturday, and it tough to see Edwin struggling with that problem for the second consecutive game. Sterling Gibbs led The Hall past Niagara with 23 points, and he’ll need to be at his best again tonight. Devareaux Manley and Dexter Jackson scored 17 points apiece to lead Kent State past Temple, with the Golden Flashes shooting 11-for-22 from beyond the arc.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Buffalo at Niagara (7:00 p.m.) 

Two of the best scorers you don’t see on national television every week will be on the same floor, with Buffalo’s Javon McCrea and Niagara’s Antoine Mason being the feature attractions. Mason scored 34 points against Seton Hall on Saturday, and while McCrea struggled in Buffalo’s loss at Texas A&M he’s coming off of a season in which he averaged 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Buffalo’s a team many believe should factor into the MAC East race, and while the Purple Eagles did lost Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley they can still put a high number of points on the board.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

1) Colorado’s looking for some payback tonight, as they host a Wyoming squad that knocked them off in Laramie last season (9:00 p.m.; Pac-12 Network). Josh Scott’s played well for the Buffaloes through two games and fellow forwards Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson played well on Sunday, but the Buffs really need shooting guard Askia Booker to get untracked. Larry Nance Jr. will lead the way for Larry Shyatt’s Cowboys.

2) Devon Collier returns to the court for Oregon State, and given how the Beavers performed on Sunday against Coppin State it’s clear that Roberto Nelson needs some options to step up alongside him. OSU host Portland (9:00 p.m.; Pac-12 Network), and while the Pilots aren’t a contender in the WCC they do have one of the league’s best interior players in senior Ryan Nicholas.

3) Kansas State looks to rebound from their season-opening loss to Northern Colorado, but that won’t be easy as Oral Roberts is the visitor in Manhattan (8:00 p.m.). Forward Shawn Glover was a preseason All-Southland selection, and in their win over city rival Tulsa the Golden Eagles grabbed 17 offensive rebounds (43.6% OR%) and out-rebounded the Golden Hurricane 45-28.

4) Bucknell visits Penn State (7:00 p.m.) in what should be an interesting affair. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill stood out in the Lions’ win over Wagner on Saturday, but they need to be careful as the Bison nearly took out Stanford on Friday. Ben Brackney led a balanced attack with 13 points, and Steven Kaspar dished out nine assists in the 72-68 defeat.

5) How will No. 18 Oregon, the only ranked team in action, build on their solid win over Georgetown? The Ducks host Western Carolina (11:00 p.m.; Pac-12 Network), and while Dana Altman’s team should win the Catamounts have a very good guard in senior Trey Sumler. And with five starters back, WCU won’t be intimidated.

OTHER GAMES ON TV:

Mount St. Mary’s at Villanova (7:00 p.m.; CBS Sports Network)
Wright State at Georgetown (7:00 p.m.; Fox Sports 1)
Brown at Providence (7:00 p.m.; Fox Sports 2)
Valparaiso at Illinois (7:30 p.m.; Big Ten Network)
Cal State Fullerton at Seattle (10:00 p.m.; ROOT Sports)

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.