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The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Joe Dean Sr., Mr. String Music and an LSU/college basketball legend, passes away (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
College basketball lost one of its all-time greats on Sunday, as Joe Dean passed away at the age of 83. A member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, Dean was known as “Mr. String Music” and was one of SEC basketball’s biggest proponents.

Michigan welcomes back Mitch McGary, goes hunting for chemistry (MLive.com)
Mitch McGary made his return to the court in Michigan’s 77-70 loss to Iowa State, finishing the game with nine points and seven rebounds. And as Brendan Quinn points out here, it’s going to take the Wolverines a little time to get used to having the big man on the court.

Thompson emerging for the Hokies (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
With their lack of experience, Virginia Tech’s going to need contributions from their newcomers if they’re to hold their own in the ACC. One of those players is Trevor Thompson, who posted a double-double in his second career game. While veteran C.J. Barksdale will be back on the floor after serving a three-game suspension, Thompson’s earned himself a spot in James Johnson’s rotation.

Wildcats and their fans never forgot loss to Robert Morris (Beaver County Times)
Despite the fact that the two teams are drastically different this season, more than a few Kentucky fans saw Sunday’s game against Robert Morris as a shot at payback. And in the aftermath of Kentucky’s 87-49 win, both head coaches are hopeful that the talk about that Postseason NIT game can come to an end.

Illini’s Groce fires back at critics (Chicago Tribune)
To say the least Friday was a tough day for Illinois on the recruiting trail, as Quentin Snider de-committed and signed with Louisville and Cliff Alexander chose Kansas. That led to some stating that John Groce’s program was “put in its place,” and he wasn’t a fan of that talk. Groce spoke on the matter Saturday while announcing the players the program did manage to sign during the early signing period.

After rough childhood, David Laury’s thriving at Iona (New York Post)
In forward David Laury the Iona Gaels have one of the best forwards at the mid-major level, as he’s a threat to post a double-double every night he’s on the floor. But life wasn’t always so “easy” for Laury, as more than 20 moves as a child (living in six different states) had a significant impact on the power forward. He’s been able to take steps in the right direction at Iona, thanks in large part to head coach Tim Cluess.

Yogi Ferrell settling into starting role for Indiana, ahead of New York City trip (Indianapolis Star)
Given how much production the Hoosiers lost from last season’s Big Ten champion team, point guard Yogi Ferrell is a highly important piece to the puzzle for Tom Crean. Thus far the sophomore’s gotten more comfortable as a leader, and with the Hoosiers participating in the 2K Sports Classic this coming week we’ll learn even more about Ferrell.

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.