Marquette capped the non-conference portion of its schedule on Saturday afternoon with a 71-48 win over Samford, with Jajuan Johnson coming off the bench to lead four players in double figures with 14 points. The win nearly came at a major cost for the Golden Eagles however, as senior forward Jamil Wilson was forced to leave the game in the first half due to a left knee injury.
After undergoing an MRI on Saturday evening, it was revealed that Wilson’s injury is a sprain and he’s considered to be day-to-day according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, head coach Buzz Williams essentially held Wilson out for precautionary reasons, with the Golden Eagles opening Big East play at Creighton on Tuesday night. And given Marquette’s resume to this point in the season, with their best win in non-conference play coming in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy over George Washington, that matchup in Omaha sets up to be a big one.
“I would say he’s fine,” Williams said. “He probably tweaked something. I think he could’ve played and he wanted to play. In the last non-conference game, regardless of who the opponent is, I don’t think that I would’ve played him. I think it was the conservative approach to make sure nothing structurally is wrong.”
Wilson, currently averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, ranks second on the team in scoring behind senior center Davante Gardner. They’re the only two Golden Eagles averaging double figures, and against Samford all four of Marquette’s double figure scorers came off the bench. If Johnson and Deonte Burton (13 points) can build off of their performances against the Bulldogs, that would bode well for Marquette moving forward.
But even with the progress shown by the freshmen, Marquette will need Jamil Wilson on the floor Tuesday night as Creighton features All-American forward Doug McDermott. McDermott can score from anywhere on the floor, and having the athletic Wilson available will help Marquette in defending the preseason Big East Player of the Year selection.
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:
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.