It took a while, but once No. 11 Florida’s pressure started taking effect, Colgate’s upset bid disappeared, as they lost 86-56 after being tied at the half.
The Gators got another monster performance from Casey Prather, who has been phenomenal early on this season, as he went for 27 points, five boards and five assts. Kasey Hill finished with 14 points, six assists and five steals in the win as well.
But the most notable performance came from one of Billy Donovan’s big men, and it wasn’t Patric Young.
Playing in his first game of the season for the Gators after being suspended for the first two, Dorian Finney-Smith went for 17 points and nine boards, with five coming on the offensive end of the floor while shooting 5-for-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. It was an impressive performance that didn’t come close to showcasing the full versatility of Finney-Smith’s game.
It’s also all the more important given the relative struggles of Young early on this season. Florida’s muscle-bound center had 10 points, eight boards and two blocks against Colgate, all three of which were season-highs. If the Gators aren’t going to be getting consistent production out of Young, they need to get it from somewhere. Damontre Harris is still suspended, Chris Walker may not get eligible at all this season, and Will Yeguete seems to get injured simply by tying his shoes.
Getting production — and perimeter shooting — out of Finney-Smith is a key for the Gators as the season progresses.
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:
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.