dinwiddie

Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: How good is Colorado sans Dinwiddie?

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 25 UCLA at No. 21 Colorado, 8:00 p.m.

Who is the second best team in the Pac-12? In the preseason, Colorado looked like they would be Arizona’s biggest challenger, but then they lost Spencer Dinwiddie. Oregon has been putting up a ton of points this season, but they don’t play any defense. Cal has looked great this season, but they don’t have any front court depth.

Can UCLA be that team? Well, UCLA doesn’t defend, either, and they still haven’t beaten anyone noteworthy this season. Are the Bruins really going to be a contender in this league? And how will Colorado respond without Dinwiddie?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 11 Ohio State at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.

The Golden Gophers have been one of the most surprising teams in the country this season. Richard Pitino is doing a terrific job getting this group to be competitive. They have a shot at an at-large berth this year, but they are going to have to notch a couple wins over teams like — oh, I don’t know — Ohio State.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, 7:00 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky was the favorite in the Ohio Valley entering the season. They took VCU to overtime in Richmond back in November. But it’s Belmont that is 4-0 in the OVC this season. It’s the Bruins that won a game at North Carolina. Can they stay on top of the conference?

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) If UConn is really going to be a contender in the American, this is the week that will determine that. Tonight, they visit No. 17 Memphis. On Saturday, they host No. 18 Louisville. Lose both, and the Huskies will be sitting at 1-4 in league play.

2) Speaking of Louisville, they host Houston tonight.

3) No. 1 Arizona will square off with in-state rival Arizona State tonight. The Sun Devils need to get this win.

4) Gonzaga will be making one of the tougher road trips in the WCC this season as they head down to Malibu to take on Pepperdine tonight.

5) Big game out in the Big Sky as Northern Colorado makes their toughest road trip of the season as they head up to Montana State tonight and Montana over the weekend.

NOTABLES:

  • Providence at St. John’s, 7:00 p.m.
  • Missouri at Vanderbilt, 7:00 p.m.
  • Elon at Davidson, 7:00 p.m.
  • New Mexico State at Chicago State, 8:00 p.m.
  • USC at Utan, 10:00 p.m.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.