Duke v Clemson

Clemson latest to upset underachieving No. 16 Duke

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Duke entered this week as the No. 16 team in the country, the first time in more than six full seasons that the Blue Devils found themselves sitting outside of the top ten of the AP poll.

That ranking isn’t incorrect, either.

Duke is 1-2 in the ACC for the first time since 2007 after losing to Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum, 72-59, on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils are 12-4 for the first time since 1996. The last time Clemson beat Duke? February of 2009.

We’re bordering on unchartered territory for the Blue Devils here, and not because this is the first time that Duke has struggled under Mike Krzyzewski. They’ve slumped and they’ve lost a couple games in a row and they’ve been picked off in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. (Hello, Eric Maynor.) That happens with every team from time-to-time, I don’t care who your coach is.

But this year is different.

Duke’s issues have been evident since the start of the season. Remember, this is the same team that nearly lost to East Carolina and Vermont at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the same team that began the year outside of Kenpom’s top 150 in defensive efficiency. We know that Duke is going to have trouble defending on the perimeter, and we know those defensive issues are going to be exacerbated by the fact that there is no one around the rim to act as rim protector.

We know all that.

But it doesn’t change the fact that the Blue Devils were a mess offensively against the Tigers, who admittedly are a good defensive team but not one that should make this Duke team look that bad.

What do I mean by ‘this Duke team’?

Well, one that includes the potential No. 1 pick in Jabari Parker and a pair of potential lottery picks in Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon. One that also includes an underrated (because he’s inconsistent) point guard in Quinn Cook and a pair of sharpshooting off-guards in Matt Jones and Andre Dawkins.

Coach K has more than enough offensive weapons at his disposal and more talent on his roster than everyone in the country outside of maybe 10 teams, and that’s being generous. So why are they being outscored 41-22 in the second half by a Tiger team that’s bad enough that it could end up getting the coach fired? Why is this group getting outscored 26-9 to close out a league game?

The answer: I don’t know.

And it doesn’t look like Coach K does, either. At least not right now.

Because if he did, Duke wouldn’t be losing at Notre Dame and they wouldn’t be losing at Clemson.

The Blue Devils are underachieving right now. When was the last time you could say that about one of Coach K’s teams?

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.