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Dick Vitale continues quest to renew Indiana/Kentucky series

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Ever since it was announced that Indiana and Kentucky would be ending its series over differences related to where the games would be played, more than a few college basketball fans have wondered what it would take to get the two storied programs back on the same floor.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari prefers that the games be played on neutral courts, while Indiana’s Tom Crean wanted a home-and-home setup. And with neither side willing to budge on its stance, a return to the court seems unlikely for the time being.

One of the people aiming to change this is ESPN color commentator Dick Vitale, who’s been passionate in his appeals to get Indiana and Kentucky to renew acquaintances on the basketball court. And according to Rick Bozich of WDRB Louisville, Vitale has an idea for the series: donate the funds generated by the game to pediatric cancer research.

Vitale said that he left long, passionate messages for both coaches, alternately encouraging and admonishing them to work out the scheduling impasse. In fact, Vitale wants to put an exclamation point on the series when the Wildcats and Hoosiers eventually play again by creating a cause:

He wants the game to generate $250,000 for a grant in his battle against pediatric cancer. If anybody can make that happen, Dick Vitale can make that happen.

That’s certainly a good cause to get behind, and it’s one that affects every fan base in America. So why not get together in the name of helping those who can use the help?

Obviously it isn’t this simple however, and it’s certainly debatable if the two storied programs need to play each other as neither has an issue scheduling marquee non-conference games. But the Indiana/Kentucky series is one that college basketball would be enhanced by if resumed. Hopefully at some point the two programs reach common ground, and if it can benefit children as well that would be even better.

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.