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Fresno State forces decisive game three in CBI championship series

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Despite shooting just 33.3% from the field on Monday night, Siena was able to knock off Fresno State in the first game of the CBI championship series due to their ability to hit the offensive glass and force turnovers. Jimmy Patsos’ Saints rebounded 41.5% of its missed shots, scoring 11 second-chance points, and they also scored 13 points off of 16 Bulldog turnovers. Those aren’t incredibly high numbers, but they were enough to give Siena the 61-57 victory.

However on Wednesday night the Bulldogs were able to clean things up in those areas, and that combined with hot shooting led to an 89-75 Fresno State victory in game two of the championship series. The two teams will meet in game three Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. EST, with the game being played at Siena’s on-campus facility.

Fresno State committed 15 turnovers but they did a better job on the boards, limiting Siena to eight offensive rebounds, and their 63.9% shooting from the field proved to be too much for the Saints to overcome. Rodney Terry’s team held a 43-24 lead at the half, and Allen Huddleston led five Fresno State players in double figures with 20 points off the bench.

Outside of one second half stretch in which the Bulldogs allowed Siena to fight back to within 13 points, they did a much better job with their spacing against the Siena pressure. That led to better scoring opportunities, with guards Huddleston, Tyler Johnson (19 points) and Cezar Guerrero (13 points, four assists) taking advantage throughout the night.

Brett Bisping led Siena with 20 points and Marquis Wright added 14, yet while Siena shot better than they did Monday night in Fresno the defense wasn’t as effective. That will need to change if they’re to win the rubber match on Saturday.

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.