Gonzaga

Gonzaga upset by San Diego, first West Coast Conference losing streak since 2011

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In a three-day span, No. 25 Gonzaga dropped back-to-back road games, the first time the Zags have lost consecutive West Coast Conference games since January 2011.

BYU avenged a loss to the Bulldogs on Thursday night. On Saturday night, San Diego held on to a 69-66 upset win, the first time the Toreros had defeated the Zags since 2008.

Johnny Dee and Duda Sanadze combined for 31 points in the win. Gonzaga junior guard Kevin Pangos was held to 2-of-8 shooting for only four points, his lowest point total since he scored seven in a loss to No. 24 Memphis on Feb. 8.

“Both (the San Diego and BYU games) have been very similar,” Gonzaga head coach Few said during the postgame press conference, according to the Spokeman-Review. “It’s hard to pinpoint either one, offense or defense, because we’re not consistently getting stops (with the) way we started the game and the second half again. On offense, we find some success going one way and we just don’t keep doing that.”

Gonzaga has struggled on the road this season, coupling these back-to-back road losses to the Cougars and Toreros with a January road conference loss to Portland and a critical non-conference game at Memphis, in which the Zags gave up an 11-point second half lead.

To make matters worse, Gonzaga has two more games away from The Kennel before the start of the West Coast Conference tournament. Gonzaga wraps up February at Pacific, then traveling to Saint Mary’s three days later.

Moreover, Gonzaga won’t make a strong case on the selection committee given its resume. A upset loss to Dayton in their first game at the Maui Invitational limited the Zags opportunities to score wins over quality opponents. Then three weeks ago, as Pangos mentioned after the game the Bulldogs “blew a golden opportunity” inside the FedEx Forum. The best win Gonzaga holds right now is a win over West Virginia, which also serves as its best road performance as well.

Selection Sunday is three weeks away. Gonzaga is projected as a No. 8 seed in the latest edition of College Basketball Talk’s Bracketology. Right now, the Zags need to sort out its road woes.

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.