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The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Utah, Kansas to meet next season in Kansas City (Utah Athletics)
On Wednesday it was announced that Utah and Kansas will meet on December 13, 2014 in Kansas City. While this may not be a significant boost for the Jayhawks it is for Larry Krystkowiak’s program, which didn’t put together the strongest of non-conference schedules this season.

Willie Cauley-Stein’s “sickle cell problem” (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein put together yet another solid performance in the Wildcats’ win over Boise State on Tuesday night, finishing with six points, seven rebounds and nine blocked shots. And he did so playing at less than full strength due to a medical condition few knew about prior. Cauley-Stein disclosed that he has the sickle cell trait, which at times has resulted in “bad chest pain.”

Trenton Catholic Academy’s Malachi Richardson ready to announce college choice (Trenton Times)
Top 25 2015 guard Malachi Richardson (Trenton, N.J.) announced on Wednesday that he will announce his college choice on Friday afternoon, picking one of the six schools on his final list. In the running for the 6-foot-5 Richardson’s services are Syracuse, Indiana, Villanova, Arizona, Connecticut and Rutgers.

Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon begin potential rivalry Saturday (Arizona Daily Sun)
On Saturday afternoon provisional Division I member Grand Canyon will visit Northern Arizona, with the two schools playing for the first time in 26 years. While this may not move the needle much in a state dominated by Pac-12 rivals Arizona and Arizona State it is an important game for both GCU and NAU, as both programs look to establish themselves within the state.

College Basketball Caucus: The most surprising team in the country? (USA Today)
A group of selected college basketball scribes have taken in the question of who’s the most surprising team in the country to this point in the season, with both Villanova and Wisconsin among the schools mentioned.

How do college basketball’s elite freshmen compare to former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony? (Syracuse Post-Standard)
One of the first names that comes up when discussing successful one-and-done players is that of former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony, who in his one season at the school helped lead the Orange to their lone national title. With this being the case, Mike Waters of the Post-Standard took a look at this year’s crop of freshmen with an eye towards how their debuts compare to that of Anthony.

Ex-N.C. State coach Lowe pleads guilty to tax charges (Sports Illustrated)
Former N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe pleaded guilty to charges of failing to file his North Carolina tax returns on Wednesday, with the state alleging that he did not file from 2009 to 2011. As part of his sentence Lowe received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 100 hours of community service and he’ll have to pay $79,000 in restitution and a $2,000 fine.

2015 center Deyonta Davis verbally commits to attend Michigan State (MLive.com)
On Wednesday Michigan State added a recruit to its 2015 class as 6-foot-9 center Deyonta Davis (Muskegon, Mich.) verbally committed to attend the Big Ten school. Davis, who picked the Spartans over the likes of Iowa State and Memphis, stated that the school’s closeness to home factored into his decision.

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.