mcclellan

Vanderbilt guard Eric McClellan suspended for remainder of season

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In his first season of eligibility after sitting out the entire 2012-13 campaign per NCAA transfer rules, Vanderbilt guard Eric McClellan was a pivotal figure in Kevin Stallings’ rotation. Through 12 games McClellan averaged a team-high 14.2 points per game to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game for the Commodores, but he did not accompany the team to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night for their SEC opener at Alabama.

On Wednesday it was reported by Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean that a “violation of university athletic policy” has ruled out McClellan for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. According to a statement released by the school, McClellan is expected to be reinstated this summer. Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, McClellan’s suspension drops them down to just seven scholarship players.

“I want to apologize to my family, coaches, teammates, and the entire Vanderbilt community for my actions that have led to this suspension,” McClellan said in the statement according to The Tennessean. “I take full responsibility for what has happened. I look forward to returning to school this summer and of continuing my goal of earning a degree at Vanderbilt and playing basketball for this coaching staff and with these players.”

McClellan’s suspension leaves the Commodores with three double-digit scorers: senior forward Rod Odom (13.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), freshman forward Damian Jones (10.7, 4.6) and senior guard Kyle Fuller (10.0, 3.9, 3.7 apg). That triumvirate scored 51 of Vanderbilt’s 63 points in their 68-63 loss at Alabama on Tuesday night, but it was the turnover count (16, compared to eight for Alabama) that made the difference.

Vanderbilt (8-5, 0-1 SEC) plays three of its next four games at home but it is a difficult stretch, beginning with Kentucky on Saturday. The other two home games are against Missouri (January 16) and Ole Miss (January 22), with a game at LSU (January 18) in between.

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.