Charles Buggs entered Tuesday night’s game against No. 20 Iowa having scored five points the entire season, but he was ready when his name was called.
The 6-foot-9 freshman scored eight straight points to spark a 24-8 first half run, finishing with 13, as Minnesota took control early and hung on late in a thrilling, 95-89 win over the Hawkeyes.
Austin Hollins finished with 27 points and Dre Mathiue adding 19 and seven assists for the Gophers, who picked up a massive win for the NCAA tournament profile. The Gophers had lost three of their last four and six of their last eight entering the night, playing themselves out of the NCAA tournament in the process. A win over Iowa at home will help them turn things around, but it’s not going to be enough to change the fortunes of their season.
Richard Pitino’s club needs to win at Michigan and avoid a loss at home to Penn State in the season finale to feel comfortable about their chances entering the Big Ten tournament.
If they shoot like they did on Tuesday, that won’t be a problem.
But some of that credit (blame?) has to fall on the shoulders of the Hawkeyes. Iowa was just plain horrible defensively for a 20 minute stretch on Tuesday. Minnesota scored on 13 straight possessions, totaling 30 points, to close out the final 7:48 of the first half, extending their lead to 80-67 with 8:30 left in the game. In less than one half of basketball, Iowa gave up 59 points to a Minnesota team that isn’t exactly known as an offensive powerhouse. That came three days after Wisconsin carved the Hawkeyes up in Iowa City.
Clearly, Iowa has some defensive kinks they need to work out.
I’m just not buying this team at this point. They have the talent, they have the computer profile, but they can’t close out games and if they continue to play defense the way they have of late, they don’t have the firepower to win.
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:
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.