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Defense, three-point shooting result in a solid Big East debut for Creighton

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The final game of the night in college basketball featured two teams playing their Big East opener, with Marquette visiting Creighton in a battle of teams expected to contend for the league crown. Ultimately the game would turn into a rout, with the combination of Creighton’s three-point shooting and Marquette’s offensive issues resulting in a 67-49 Bluejay victory.

Doug McDermott led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds, with Jahenns Manigat (16 points, six assists) and Ethan Wragge (12) knocking down four three-pointers apiece. As a team Creighton shot 13-for-35 from beyond the arc, outscoring the Golden Eagles 39-6 on three-pointers. And given Marquette’s shooting issues, as they entered the game shooting 31.1% from deep and scoring just 19% of their points on the three-point shot (per kenpom.com), this proved to be entirely too much to overcome.

Creighton didn’t shoot a high percentage from the field, making just 40% of their shots. But Greg McDermott’s team does a good job of finding shots, with their ability to work the ball around the perimeter via the pass or “drive and kick” approach resulting in quality looks. They’re a very difficult team to defend, but the more important development moving forward for the Bluejays is what they were able to do defensively.

Is Marquette an offensive juggernaut? Absolutely not. But for a program that places such a high value on “paint touches,” the Golden Eagles only scored four more points in the paint than Creighton (28-24). Marquette is still searching for answers offensively, and Creighton didn’t allow them the chances necessary to do so on Tuesday night.

It’s going to be interesting to see how both teams learn from Tuesday’s result, especially a Marquette team whose best win this point in the season came at the expense of George Washington in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy in November. As for Creighton, in front of a sold-out crowd (outside of shooting a little better from the field overall) they really couldn’t ask for a better start to life in the Big East.

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.