Ed Cooley

Kris Dunn sparks second half comeback in Providence’s win over Vanderbilt

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On Friday night, Michigan wasn’t the only team to overcome a 16-point deficit.

Led by its sophomore point guard Kris Dunn — the former McDonald’s All-American — Providence rallied off 17 straight points to erase Vanderbilt’s 16-point lead, en route to the Friars’ 67-60 win over the Commodores in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam quarterfinal.

Vanderbilt led 56-40 with under 10 minutes to play, when Providence made its game-changing run. Providence slowly chipped away at the lead, but with 7:30 to play the Friars took complete control with Dunn scoring four points, grabbing three rebounds, dishing out five assists and coming away with two steals during that stretch. Providence overcame the deficit and took the lead with just over three minutes to play when Dunn handed off to Bryce Cotton for the jumper.

On the other end, Vanderbilt struggled to get anything to drop, going scoreless for almost eight minutes. A 3-pointer from Rod Odom gave Vandy a brief lead as PC rallied off six straight buckets.

On Nov. 2, Dunn left an exhibition game with a shoulder injury, the same shoulder injury that pushed back his collegiate debut until December last season. Dunn being sidelined put up huge concerns for Providence, though the Friars still managed to knock off Boston College on opening night, followed by games against Brown and Marist.

Dunn was rated as the No. 1 point guard in the Class of 2012 coming out of New London High (Conn.) and has the potential to be a breakout player this season. With Dunn back in the lineup and more importantly healthy, Providence has a talented back court with him and Cotton.

That back court gets a test on Sunday against La Salle in the semifinals.

While Providence remains undefeated, Vanderbilt suffers its second heart-breaking loss this week. On Tuesday, the Commodores forced overtime against Butler only to come up short inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.

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.