Oregon State Athletics

Devon Collier’s return an important one for Oregon State

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What a difference a week makes for the Oregon State Beavers.

With big men Devon Collier and Eric Moreland suspended the Beavers lost their regular season opener to Coppin State, a team picked to finish ninth in the MEAC. That loss occurred despite senior guard Roberto Nelson scoring 36 points, as he attempted to carry Oregon State to the victory with limited offensive help from his teammates.

Now that Collier’s back in the fold Nelson has some help when it comes to managing the scoring load, and on Sunday evening those two combined to lead Oregon State to a 90-83 victory at Maryland. Nelson scored a game-high 31 points to go along with seven assists, shooting 12-for-14 from the foul line, and Collier added his second consecutive double-double with 29 points and 11 rebounds. And it’s safe to say that these last two games have displayed Collier’s importance to the Oregon State attack.

Nelson’s ability to score has been there for quite some time, but Oregon State wasn’t going to be able to “tread water” in either non-conference or Pac-12 play if he were the only scoring option. Enter Collier, who averaged 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season and has posted double-doubles in each of the two games he’s played in this season. With the return of Angus Brandt (missed much of last season with a torn ACL) inside and guards Challe Barton and Victor Robbins the Beavers do have experience, but without Collier they didn’t have much in the way of scoring punch.

“It was a team effort,” Collier said after the game. “I came out to play. Berto came out to play. Angus came out to play. The whole team came out to play. I felt it was a team effort; everybody followed the game plan and we came out with a victory.”

Oregon State will add their best interior defender in Eric Moreland when conference play begins in January and he’s a valuable piece, but he doesn’t threaten defenses to the level that Collier does inside. Maryland had no answer for the senior forward, and that proved to be as important as Nelson’s 31-point night. The Beavers will play four of their next five games in Corvallis, with the lone road trip coming in the form of a game at DePaul.

Can they get hot before leaving the mainland for the Diamond Head Classic in late-December? The schedule sets up for such a run, but then again in recent years Oregon State’s seemingly made a habit of squandering such opportunities. This time around the Beavers have two proven scoring options, and that could make all the difference as Oregon State looks to rack up some wins before the start of Pac-12 play.

Also of note: Oregon State moved to 4-0 in games played with President Barack Obama and his family in attendance.

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.