Phil Pressey, Robert Covington, Jordan Cyphers

Christmas Wish List: Mizzou needs perimeter scoring, defensive playmakers

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Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.

What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.

Gotta have it list-topper: Filling Mike Dixon’s role

It’s no secret that the loss of Mike Dixon is a crippling one for the Missouri basketball team. In addition to being a tough perimeter defender, Dixon would have been the Tigers best perimeter shooter during the first month and a half of the season. He also would have been their best perimeter scorer, the guy that has the ball in his hands when they really need a basket. Jabari Brown gets eligible this month after transferring to Missouri from Oregon, and the Tigers are going to need him to fill that role. He’s not as good as Dixon, but he’s bigger and he’s a better shooter. And more importantly, unlike Keion Bell and Negus Webster-Chan, he hasn’t looked overmatched yet this season.

Dixon wasn’t Missouri’s most valuable player, but he was a long, long way from expendable. Until Frank Haith has an answer alongside Phil Pressey in the back court, the Tigers are not going to be complete.

Stocking Stuffer: Defensive playmakers

Missouri is currently 65th in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. But as you look at their tempo-free profile, they’re pretty solid in most areas on that end of the floor: they’re good at forcing teams into tough shots and solid at clearing the defensive glass. They don’t foul all that much and they’re pretty good at cutting off penetration. But, as a team, the Tigers are 290th in the country in turnover rate and 160th nationally in block percentage. This is a team with size, with length and with athletes at a number of different positions on the floor. They should be better at forcing turnovers and blocking shots.

Planning on re-gifting: Wings that can’t shoot

Earnest Ross, Keion Bell and Negus Webster-Chan are a combined 22-75 from three this season, which checks in at a sultry 29.3%. Last year, Missouri was the 10th best three point shooting team in the country, and they are running much of the same offense that they did a year ago. If those threes don’t start dropping and the Tigers aren’t getting stops, than Missouri is going to be in trouble this season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.