Titus Rubles, Kyree Jones

Christmas Wish Lists: Titus Rubles’ production tops Cincinnati list

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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: Titus Rubles is the fourth scoring option 

In Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker the Bearcats have a very good perimeter trio on which to rely. However, when considering the fact that Mick Cronin’s big men aren’t serious interior scoring threats, the Bearcats need a fourth perimeter factor to emerge. Enter Titus Rubles, who is averaging 8.1 points in just under 20 minutes of action per game. In the Bearcats’ three toughest games to date (Iowa State, Oregon and Alabama) the Blinn College transfer averaged 11.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest, but he shot a combined 4-of-13 in wins over Arkansas-Little Rock and Maryland-Eastern Shore. If Cincinnati is to get back to the Sweet 16 (or go even further) they’ll need consistent production from Rubles.

Stocking stuffer: Cleaning the glass at a higher rate 

Cincinnati has been the best team in the Big East when it comes to attacking the offensive boards, as they’re corralling a league-best 42.2% of their missed shots. But the Bearcats have been a middle of the pack squad when it comes to keeping opponents from doing the same, as their defensive rebounding percentage ranks seventh in the conference (70.6%). With the bulk of the scoring coming from the perimeter, players such as Justin Jackson (6.2 rpg), Cheikh Mbodj (4.9) and David Nyarsuk (4.4) will have to lead the way on the boards. It does help matters that Kilpatrick (6.1 rpg), Rubles (5.4) and Parker (4.6) are all good rebounders, but those big men will be needed if Cincinnati is to make waves in both Big East play and March.

Planning on re-gifting: Non-conference strength of schedule

According to realtimerpi.com the Bearcats enter Friday with a strength of schedule ranking of 246, while Yahoo! Sports calculations have them sitting at a slightly better ranking of 223. But with wins over Iowa State and Oregon (that win over Alabama may take a hit due to the Crimson Tide’s injury issues) and a game against Xavier on the horizon, the are some solid results on Cincinnati’s resume. Conference play will give those numbers the boost they need to look good come Selection Sunday, but you have to wonder if the non-conference number could cost Cincinnati a seed line when the time comes.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told NBCSports.com that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.