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.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: