Ron Baker

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Wichita State, Oregon look to stay undefeated

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GAME OF THE DAY: Davidson vs. No. 10 Wichita State, 3 p.m.

The Shockers are off to their best start in school history. They look to continue to raise the bar as they welcome the Davidson Wildcats to Charles Koch Arena. Davidson will be playing its fifth ranked opponent this season, taking North Carolina to overtime last Saturday before the Tar Heels ran away in the extra five minutes. Davidson forward De’Mon Brooks missed six games before returning against North Carolina. He had another full week to prepare for this afternoon’s tilt with Wichita State. The Shockers look to avoid the upset, and head into Missouri Valley Conference play undefeated.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Canisius vs. Notre Dame, 5 p.m. (ESPN3)

So far this season, Notre Dame has let Indiana State and North Dakota State leave South Bend with wins. On Sunday, the Fighting Irish welcome MAAC contender Canisius. This will be the first game Notre Dame plays without Jerian Grant, who leads the team in points and assists.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Southeast Missouri State vs. Missouri State, 3:05 p.m.

A battle between Ohio Valley Conference and Missouri Valley Conference programs. Southeast Missouri State (8-3) travels across the state to Springfield to play a 9-2 Missouri State team. Jarekious Bradley leads Southeast Missouri State with 20.1 points per game, while Tyler Stone is averaging nearly a double-double this season. Missouri State will look to slow down the game on offense.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Wichita State isn’t the only team looking to remain unbeaten. Oregon is looking to improve to 12-0, hosting 3-8 Morgan State at 3 p.m. in Eugene.

2) Florida has won three games since Shabazz Napier ran out of Gampel Pavilion with a UConn win. The Gators have had a week to improve on its team chemistry, dealing with multiple injuries over the first few months of the season. Florida is yet to be a full strength as freshman forward Chris Walker will not play against Savannah State on Sunday, pushing back his collegiate debut.

3) There are several other quality mid-major games on tap for Sunday such as:

  • Georgia State vs. East Carolina, 1 p.m.
  • Buffalo vs. Drexel, 2 p.m.
  • Eastern Kentucky vs. IPFW, 2 p.m.
  • Denver vs. UTEP, 9 p.m.

4) Georgia Tech is 8-4 on the season and on Sunday the Yellow Jackets end their non-conference schedule. They’ll look to bounce-back from a double-digit loss to Vanderbilt, but will have to do so against Charlotte (8-3). The last time the 49ers played an ACC opponent, they got blown out by 42.

5) Dougie McBuckets and Creighton end non-conference play on Sunday against Chicago State. The Bluejays kick off its first Big East season on New Year’s Eve against Marquette.

NOTABLES:

  • Texas Southern vs. TCU, 2 p.m.
  • Murray State vs. Dayton, 2 p.m.
  • West Virginia vs. William & Mary, 3 p.m.
  • Bowling Green vs. Wright State, 3 p.m.
  • Boston University vs. St. Joseph’s, 4 p.m.
  • Howard vs. USC, 5 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Tulsa vs. Maryland, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Cal Poly vs. Stanford, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Hartford vs. Washington, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Quinnipiac vs. Oregon State, 11 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

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.