Aaron Gordon

Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Arizona hosts Colorado, lots of key mid-major games


GAME OF THE NIGHT: Colorado at No. 1 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.

It’s a shame that Spencer Dinwiddie went down with an ACL injury, but the ineptitude of everyone in the Pac-12 these days, the Buffaloes could very well still be the second best team in the conference. I’m not sure that’s actually saying much at this point, but Colorado does have a front line that can matchup with Arizona size-wise.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 6 Florida at Alabama, 7:00 p.m.

The Gators are one of the best teams in the country, I truly believe that, but they have this annoying tendency of going through bouts of what I like to call ‘offensive inability’. In other words, they have too many bad scoring stretches. Alabama is a middle-of-the-pack SEC team, but they’re tough and physical defensively and they do have one of the nation’s most underrated point guards in Trevor Releford.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Florida-Gulf Coast at Mercer, 7:00 p.m.

#DunkCity was the biggest story in college basketball for a week last year, when they made their run through the the first weekend and into the Sweet 16. They were everywhere, but they weren’t the even the reigning regular season champion of the Atlantic Sun. That title belongs to Mercer, who, like FGCU, sits at 6-1 in league play.


1) You may not want to actually watch the game, but Illinois will be visiting No. 17 Ohio State tonight. The Illini and the Buckeyes are both really, really good defensively but struggle — mightily — to score. Take the under, I don’t care what it is.

2) A pair of ranked American teams take the floor at home tonight, with No. 17 Cincinnati hosting Central Florida and No. 23 Memphis welcoming Houston.

3) If Colorado isn’t the second best team in the Pac-12, who is? Well, Cal lost to USC last night. So that leaves UCLA, who hosts Stanford, and Oregon, who will pay a visit to Washington.

4 and 5) There are a number of key games in mid-major leagues tonight:

  • Belmont takes on Morehead State in a battle for first place in the OVC East.
  • Old Dominion is 3-0 in Conference USA, with all three wins coming on the road. They’re the only undefeated team in the conference. They’ll host league favorite Southern Miss tonight.
  • Chattanooga is 6-0 in the SoCon, but Davidson and Western Carolina, who play tonight, are both sitting one game back in the loss column.
  • Georgia State is undefeated in the Sun Belt. They’ll host Louisiana-Lafayette tonight. NBA scouts will be in attendance. Ryan Harrow, R.J. Hunter, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long all take the floor.
  • Stephen F. Austin is three games into a five-game road stretch. They are 5-0 in the Southland, but pay a visit to 4-1 Oral Roberts tonight.

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.