Marcus Smart

No. 5 Oklahoma State’s win over Purdue exemplifies issues with new foul rules

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Marcus Smart is building a nice little reputation for himself as the best first half player … ever?

Smart scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half of No. 5 Oklahoma State’s 97-87 win over Purdue, hitting 4-for-6 from three and adding four rebounds and four assists. The Pokes led by more than 20 for much of the game before Smart picked up a technical foul in the second half. It was his fourth, and in his absence the Boilermakers were able to cut the lead to 84-80 at one point.

Markel Brown, who finished with 25 points, played the role of closer, hitting a couple of big shots down the stretch, but the story of this game was the fouls.

60 were called in total. Five players in total fouled out, and that doesn’t include Jay Simpson, who was given a Flagrant 2 earlier in the game. Four more players finished the afternoon with four fouls. Smart’s technical? It came after he was called for a horrendous foul by Karl Hess while trying to guard Purdue center A.J. Hammons in the post. Here’s the video. Explain to me why this is a foul on Smart. Why was he guarding Hammons in the post? Because Oklahoma State big men Michael Cobbins and Kamari Murphy both were already in bad foul trouble.

Look, I understand why refs have been told to call games tighter, and I actually agree with the reasoning. Freedom of movement on the offensive end of the floor is a good thing. It makes the game more fun to watch and it brings a level skill back that has been missing. If we wanted to watch rugby, we’d move to Australia.

The problem is that there are times where the refs just get way too ambitious, and this game was a perfect example. Doug Gottlieb has been campaigning as much as anyone about how bad some of these whistles are, and he posted a couple of videos that make his case quite convincingly.

Tell me, where is the foul here? Or here? Or here?

The game needed to be freed up. It’s been turned into a mockery. This needs to be corrected.

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.