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Gary Harris: ‘I’m definitely going to play against North Carolina’

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Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris injured his ankle in late August, though, that force him to miss any regular season games. That was until Friday during the top-ranked Spartans’ 98-65 win over Mount St. Mary’s

Tom Izzo sidelined his reigning Big Ten freshmen of the year for the entire weekend, not just the 33-point win, in hopes the rest will have his shooting guard back for Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against North Carolina. According to MLive.com, Izzo said there is a 99 percent chance Harris will be ready to go against the Tar Heels. On Monday, Harris took it a step further, per Gillian Van Stratt.

“Oh, I’m playing,” Harris said on Monday after practice. “I’m definitely going to play against North Carolina.

“I’ve gotten a lot better over these days off. Coach has held me out and I’m just giving my ankle some time to rest, extra rehab. So I mean, it’s getting better each and every day.”

Despite seeing a noticeable dip in his 3-point shooting this season, Harris leads the Spartans in scoring at 17.7 points a game to go along with averages of 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 30-plus minutes a contest.

Izzo is going to want his 6-foot-4 scorer in the lineup Wednesday night in East Lansing. Izzo is looking to take down Roy Williams, who is undefeated against Michigan State since taking over at North Carolina. Williams holds a 6-0 edge, which includes the 2009 national championship win. Williams and his Tar Heels will look to make it 7-0, especially after sandwiching an impressive win over then-No. 3 Louisville with losses to Belmont (at home) and at UAB.

Michigan State and North Carolina tip at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

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.