Hield leads Bahamian players' charge in NCAA


Sports Reporter


THE journey to the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament began in earnest this weekend, and a number of Bahamian players saw significant action in the season debuts for their respective Division I schools.

The top performance of the weekend came from the Oklahoma Sooners’ Buddy Hield who scored a career high 19 points to open a highly anticipated year.

The Sooners separated themselves in the final six minutes of the second half to take an 82-73 win over Alabama in a rare SEC-Big 12 matchup as a part of the Buckets and Boots Classic, played at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Hield shot 7-14 from the floor, 2-5 from beyond the arch and also chipped in with five rebounds and three steals.

It represents another quick start to the year for Hield who scored 17 points against Texas Arlington in just the second game of the year as a freshman.

The Sooners trailed by as much as 16 early in the first half before they mounted the first of several rallies.

The Sooners led by just one, 67-66, before Hield scored on a fastbreak layup to spark a 10-0 run.

“I didn’t know we were down that much. I looked at the score and was like, ‘wow, we’ve got to pick it up.’ Ryan [Spangler] picked up his energy and stepped up and I had to pick my energy up. Other guys like Jordan [Woodard], Je’lon [Hornbeak] and Isaiah [Cousins), we just kept rolling. We got down by 10 and cut the lead down. That’s our confidence. We’re young but we’ve got to keep on learning. We’re getting better as we go on,” Hield said.

“It was good for us. We go on the road in the Big 12 playing in hostile environments, we’ve got to get used to getting down 10 points and trying to find a way to come back. We have quick guys and want to attack the basket and try to play our way back in the game.”

In the Southland Conference, Zane Knowles finished with the second highest rebound total in Texas A and M Corpus Christi history. Knowles finished with a doule double - 12 points and 18 rebounds - in the Islanders’ 79-45 win over Huston-Tillotson in the season opener. He shot 5-9 from the field, but just 2-7 from the line.

The Islanders’ season is scheduled to continue 7pm Tuesday against Iowa State of the Big 12.

In the ACC, Shaquille Cleare and the Maryland Terrapins had a frenetic rally come up just short in a 78-77 loss to the 18th ranked Connecticut Huskies. Cleare finished with just four points and a rebound in 19 minutes.

The sophomore center started the opener and the Terps looked to get him involved in the offence early when they fed him the ball in the low post on the opening possession.

Cleare will look to rebound from a slow start as the Terps seek their first win of the year, Wednesday, November 13 at home against Abilene Christian.

In the American Athletic Conference, two thirds of the Bahamian connection at the University of Houston helped to propel the Cougars to a hard fought 76-70 win over Texas State.

Both Mikhail McLean and LJ Rose were in the starting lineup while Danrad Knowles remains sidelined, awaiting an NCAA ruling on his immediate eligibility.

Mikhail McLean, a junior forward, finished with four points, five rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes while Rose finished with 11 points (2-2 from three point range) and six assists in his official Cougars debut.

In the Mountain Valley Conference, Kadeem Coleby and the Wichita State Shockers won their seventh consecutive season opener with a 93-50 blowout win over Emporia State at the Charles Koch Arena.

Coleby was in early foul trouble and finished with two points, three rebounds and a block in just 15 minutes.

Coleby, junior Darius Carter and freshmen Derail Green, Zach Bush and John Robert Simon played their first minutes as Shockers.

In the SEC, freshman Dwight Coleby took the floor for the first time with the Rebels while sophomore Tavario Miller began his sophomore campaign with the Texas A & M Aggies.

Coleby played six minutes and finished with two rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in the 69-54 win over Troy at the Tad Smith Colesium.

Miller also struggled from the field and finished with four rebounds and a block in 11 minutes in the Aggies’ 82-58 win over Buffalo. The Aggies are scheduled to face Mississippi Valley State 7pm tonight.

Meanwhile, Coleby and the Rebels are slated to square off against Coastal Carolina and sophomore forward Tristian Curtis. Curtis saw 16 minutes in the Chanticleers 72-63 loss to the Akron Zips in the season opener and finished with four points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Coastal Carolina is projected to contend for the Big South Conference regular season championship.

Kentwan Smith and the Stetson Hatters of the Atlantic Sun Conference fell to 0-2 Sunday after they lost to Notre Dame, 80-49. Smith struggled from the field and shot 1-7 and finished with four points and four rebounds.

In the season opener, Smith finished with seven points and four rebounds in the Hatters’ 71-51 loss to Clemson.

The Hatters are set to face Florida A and M on November 14.


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