Syracuse v Arkansas

Christmas Wish Lists: Syracuse’s big men look to continue development

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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: Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Keita continue to develop
With players such as Brandon Triche, C.J. Fair, James Southerland and floor general Michael Carter-Williams the Orange are in very good shape offensively. However if Jim Boeheim’s team is to get to Atlanta big men Christmas, Coleman and Keita will need to continue to improve. They’ve performed well through nine games, averaging a combined 19.6 points and 17.1 rebounds per game, with Christmas and Coleman doing their work as starters and Keita coming off the bench. Syracuse’s title hopes ended last season when they lost the middle of their zone defense (Fab Melo); if these three can continue to control the paint when Big East play rolls around the Orange will be very tough to beat.

Stocking stuffer: Trevor Cooney becomes another reliable scorer off the bench
James Southerland is one of the best sixth men in the country, but would any Syracuse fan complain if Jim Boeheim were to end up with another consistent reserve? Cooney went scoreless in Syracuse’s win over Canisius on Saturday night but in the three games prior the redshirt freshman averaged 12.3 points per game (reaching double figures in all three contests). On the season Cooney is averaging 5.8 points per game, and if he can produce on a consistent basis the Orange will have another perimeter scorer to go along with Carter-Williams and Triche.

Planning on re-gifting: Foul shooting
Syracuse is currently making just 65.7% of their free throws, a number that ranks 10th in the Big East. But the is a point that should be made about said percentage: the team leader in free throw attempts is Coleman (38), who is currently shooting 50% from the charity stripe. Of the nine players averaging double digit minutes just three are shooting worse than 75% from the foul line: Coleman, Keita (44.4%) and Jerami Grant (25%). So if anything the Orange will look to re-gift the percentages of those three.

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

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.