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The Morning Mix

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We’ve got a pretty good slate of games on tap tonight, including the much-anticipated Crosstown Classic between Xavier and Cincinnati. The college basketball world continues to show their support to those who were involved in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Cornell @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Florida International @ No. 5 Louisville
7:00 p.m. – Xavier vs. No. 11 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – Illinois State @ Dayton
7:30 p.m. – Ohio @ Massachusetts
8:05 p.m. – Tulsa @ No. 17 Creighton
8:00 p.m. – South Dakota State @ Belmont
8:00 p.m. – Oregon @ UTEP
9:00 p.m. – No. 23 North Carolina @ Texas
9:00 p.m. – Oakland @ West Virginia
10:00 p.m. – Pacific @ St. Mary’s
10:00 p.m. – Northern Iowa @ No. 21 UNLV
11:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Loyola Marymount

Read(s) of the Day:
This is one of the best articles I’ve read all month and potentially all year. Jason King does a masterful job detailing the priceless tutelage provided by John Lucas to troubled players and coaches. If you read only one article today, make sure it’s this. (ESPN)

Top Stories:
Providence honors Newtown victims with jersey, 26 empty seats: Providence played on Tuesday night and their way of honoring the memory of the victims was to wear the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many schools have done a marvelous job of honoring Sandy Hook and Newtown, but the good people at Providence should be applauded for their swift efforts.

VIDEO: How did Jim Boeheim make it to 900? Vin Parise joined NBC Sports’ SportsTalk to break down exactly how Jim Boeheim made it to this spectacular point in his illustrious coaching career.

Holiday Wish List for Ohio State: In order for the Buckeyes to make consecutive Final-Fours, they will need to ask for more minutes for Shannon Scott and increased consistency from Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross.

Can Miami really be the second best team in the ACC? The Hurricanes have a front line big enough to compete with anyone in the league and has a balanced attack that features five players averaging double figures. Miami picked the right season to peak. With the rest of the ACC down, Jim Larranaga has enough talent to make a push to be the second best team in the league.

Hoops Housekeeping
– We’re less than 48 hours away from finding out where Jabari Parker will attend college, and the father of the nation’s top recruit doesn’t know which school his son will choose. (ESPN Chicago)

– Wichita State’s Ron Baker becomes third Shocker starter to miss time due to injury (Wichita Eagle)

– Louisville center Gorgui Dieng likely to sit out with injury until after New Year’s Day (The Dagger)

– Duke redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee is set to make his debut tonight when the Blue Devils take on Cornell. The youngest Plumlee brother had been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot for the last two months (Rant Sports)

– Purdue reserve guard Jay Simpson will miss the rest of the 2012-2013 season due to a foot injury and will be eligible to seek a medical redshirt hardship waiver. (Lafayette Journal Courier)

Observations & Insight:
– A nice-read on Memphis’ dunk machine D.J. Stephens, who has evolved from athletic project to senior leader. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Nicole Auerbach spent some time in the Queen City and profiled the anatomy of a rivalry. (USA Today)

– A miscommunication between Keith Appling and Tom Izzo resulted in Bowling Green players being a little upset with the way the Spartans finished off their ten point victory over the Falcons. (

– Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey spoke out about the Newtown shootings during his teams press conference following their loss to Ohio State last night. (

– Former-Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez has some words of wisdom for currently suspended Rutgers head coach Mike Rice (

– Joe Lunardi has some bracket concerns with the new unnamed Catholic League (ESPN)

– Jeff Borzello updates us on his Freshman of the Year awards. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Four midseason transfers that can provide an instant impact for their new teams. (The Dagger)

Odds & Ends:
– A “where are they now” on a bunch of players who were recruited by Billy Gillispie at Kentucky. (Eye on College Basketball)

– State Fair JuCo star Kenny-Red Chery has committed to Baylor. Future #AllNameTeam member for sure. (Our Daily Bears)

– Ten reasons why Bearcat fans hate Xavier. Don’t hate on the Xavier popes. Those guys are the best. (Bearcats Blog)

– Aaron Craft’s mom explains her son’s trademark rosy red cheeks. (The Dagger)

– Kansas sophomore Naadir Tharpe did “The Robot” on the bench during the Jayhawks destruction of Richmond. (The Mock Session)

 Picture of the Day:
The Providence honored the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting during the Friars game against Colgate last night by memorializing 26 seats at The Dunkin’ Donuts Center. (College Basketball Talk)


Dunks(s) of the Day:
Auburn’s Chris Denson shut it down against Tennessee Tech last night. # GameOver.

Video(s) of the Day:
This is the funniest faux Christmas infomercial you will ever see (The Basketball Jones)

Video(s) of the Day:
Highlights from VCU’s 32-point win over Western Kentucky, as seen on the NBC Sports Network

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Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

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.