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Holiday Wish Lists: What are the nation’s best teams in need of adding this holiday season?

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Over the course of the next three days, we at College Basketball Talk will be cruising through a list of college basketball’s best teams, attempting to figure out who or what they need to add.

Put another way, with the holidays right around the corner, if your favorite team was able to ask for one thing as a gift, what would it be?

Do they need to add a point guard?

Is there enough big man depth on the roster?

Can they shoot?

Can they guard?

Today, we’ll roll through everyone from Syracuse to Xavier.

Let’s get into it.

MOREAlabama-Louisville Maryland-Seton Hall
FUTURES: Alabama-Louisville | Maryland-Seton Hall | Syracuse-Xavier

SYRACUSE: Shooting

There is just one player on the Syracuse roster that shoots it better than 30 percent from three: Tyus Battle. Battle has his own shortcomings as a player – namely, he doesn’t do much beyond score – but his ability to make shots is critical for a team that doesn’t really have anyone else that can do that. The Orange, right now, are a team that is surviving based on their ability to get to the offensive glass. Will that last against bigger, better teams in the ACC? (Rob Dauster)

TCU: More of the same?

Jamie Dixon has to just be asking for more of the same. The Horned Frogs are 11-0 and have one of the country’s most efficient offenses, thanks largely to some serious bucket-getting. TCU just has to hope that Old St. Nick – along with Jaylen Fischer, Vlad Brodniansky, Desmond Bane and Kenrich Williams – can keep them delivering against the Big 12 rather than the relatively, compared to their league, weak competition they’ve played. (Travis Hines)

TENNESSEE: A box out

I am somewhat worried about Tennessee’s like of bucket-getters offensively. Outside of Grant Williams, there isn’t really anyone on that roster that would scare me as an opposing coach. But the bigger concern for Tennessee is that they just do not rebound the ball on the defensive end. The Vols currently ranked 316th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. That’s not good, and something that needs to be improved if Rick Barnes’ wants to get his team a win or two in the Big Dance. (RD)

Grant Williams (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

TEXAS: A healthy Andrew Jones

Texas already ranks as one of the worst offensive teams among the crop of potential NCAA tournament invitees, and that was before they lost their leading scorer and the only guy on the roster that shoots better than 30.8 percent from three to a wrist injury. Think about it like this: Texas ranks 337th in three-point shooting on the season, and that includes the 43.2 percent that Jones shoots. With him out, they mustered 52 points at home in a loss to Michigan and 47 points at home in a win over a mediocre Tennessee State team. (RD)

TEXAS A&M: A healthy Admon Gilder

Things are going swimmingly for Billy Kennedy’s team, so the status quo seems to be plenty good for them. To keep things going, though, Kennedy has to be wishing for a speedy recovering for Admon Gilder, who is expected to miss a few weeks due to a knee injury. The Aggies’ SEC schedule is pretty front-loaded, so getting Gilder back quickly could be huge. (TH)

TEXAS TECH: Someone to make a perimeter shot

Chris Beard is looking for some shooting under the tree this holiday season. The Red Raiders have been awesome defensively – blocking shots, getting steals and keeping scores low – but their 3-point percentages could really use a boost. Only two players – Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti – are shooting better than 35 percent on at least 30 attempts this season. Texas Tech will be happy to grind games out in the Big 12, but at some point they’ll need to space the floor. (TH)

Keenan Evans (John Weast/Getty Images)

UCLA: Jalen Hill and Cody Riley doing what needs to be done in order to return

Given the indefinite suspensions of Hill, Riley and the departed LiAngelo Ball, the UCLA rotation is stretched thin. The Bruins could really use Hill and Riley, two talented 6-foot-10 forwards who before the season began were thought to be capable of at the very least being supplementary options in the front court. While Gyorgy Goloman and Alex Olesinski have earned their keep so to speak, with Thomas Welsh leading the way, UCLA really doesn’t have anywhere else to turn outside of those three. In theory Hill and Riley would be able to help out whenever they’re allowed to play, but we really don’t know since they aren’t allowed to work out with the team. Hopefully they’ve done everything possible to make Steve Alford and the administration consider allowing them to play, because having two more bodies wouldn’t be a bad thing for UCLA at this point. (RJ)

UCONN: A new shoulder for Alterique Gilbert

The Huskies have major issues all over the floor – and, frankly, the bench – right now, and they aren’t necessarily solvable in the short-term. That said, I do think that things would be helped immensely if a healthy Alterique Gilbert can come back. I don’t know that he’ll ever be healthy, as he’s dealing with an injury to the same shoulder he dealt with last season, but if he does come back, they’ll get the point of their defense back as well as another guy that can create a shot for himself. (RD)

USC: DeAnthony Melton on the court

This one’s simple. While the Trojans are a talented group, they sorely miss a player in Melton who can tie it all together on both ends of the floor. Not sure when (or if) USC will allow Melton to play, but he needs to be on the court and the Trojans need him out there are well. Here’s to Melton getting back on the court before the start of conference play. (RJ)

VILLANOVA: Continued health

For my money, Villanova is the best team in college basketball and I’m not quite sure that there is all that much that they can do to be better beyond, say, getting Eric Paschall to actually make some threes; he’s 1-for-20 on the season. For my money, Villanova is just about perfect as they are, but there isn’t all that much depth on the roster should someone get injured. They don’t really have a backup for Omari Spellman. They don’t really have a replacement for Jalen Brunson, especially now that Collin Gillispie is missing some time. So let’s just keep the kids healthy, shall we? (RD)

VIRGINIA: A slasher

Virginia more or less are who they are, right? You know they’re going to play slow. You know they’re going to play the Pack-Line. You know the actions that they are going to run, and who the sets are going to be run for. What they’re missing is someone that can create if things get bogged down, a guy that doesn’t need an action run for him to create a shot or get to the foul line. As a team, they are 285th in free throw rate. As good as Kyle Guy has been, if he’s not running off screens and getting catch-and-shoot looks, he’s not all that effective. (RD)

Kyle Guy (Chet Strange/Getty Images)

VIRGINIA TECH: Depth

Wishing they could grow another serviceable big man for its rotation quicker than a Chia Pet, Virginia Tech will have to settle for developing more help on a short bench. The Hokies have a deep team if they’re playing the mediocre competition on their non-conference schedule. Against a juggernaut like Kentucky, however, it only looked like Virginia Tech had six players capable of logging major minutes. Once the ACC begins, expect a shortened rotation from Buzz Williams, but he could certainly use some of his bench guys stepping up in the next few months and earning more PT. (Scott Phillips)

WEST VIRGINIA: Esa Ahmad, and better offense

The knock nearly every year of the Press Virginia era has been the Mountaineers’ lack of scoring in the halfcourt when its defense isn’t turning to offense. West Virginia has been pretty good in the halfcourt this season, though, ranking in the 81st percentile nationally in points-per-possession, according to Synergy Sports. Still, Bob Huggins has to be looking to squeeze a little more out of the offense once conference play starts and the turnovers are harder to generate. Esa Ahmad’s return from academic suspension should help. (TH)

WICHITA STATE: The AAC to be better

Before submitting his letter to Santa, Gregg Marshall undoubtedly checked to make sure Trae Young wasn’t on the schedule again this year or avoiding the Sooners freshman would have topped the Shockers’ list. As it stands, Marshall has to be asking for the AAC – namely Cincinnati, SMU, Houston and Temple – keep high computer numbers to help Wichita State to nab that high seed that’s eluded them since that 2014 undefeated season. (TH)

XAVIER: A third scorer

A consistent third scoring option is something Xavier is wishing for. Although the Musketeers have a really deep team full of potential third options if Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura have off nights, they still don’t have a third go-to player to get them a bucket. Some nights it might be Kaiser Gates. Others, it might be the rotation of big men that includes Tyrique Jones, Kerem Kanter and Sean O’Mara. Or maybe it’s a young perimeter options like Naji Marshall or Quentin Goodin. Either way, at some point this season, Xavier is going to need someone other than Bluiett and Macura to get a big bucket and a consistent third scoring option would not hurt. (SP)

Saturday College Basketball Recap: No. 7 Wichita State, No. 8 Texas Tech lose

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

It’s hard to argue with the performance that J.P. Macura had on Saturday. No. 11 Xavier went into Newark and knocked off No. 19 Seton Hall, 73-64, behind 27 points, five boards and three assists from Macura.

This win was particularly important for Xavier, who remain just a game out of first place in the Big East and in great position to make a run at getting a top three seed, which would mean they likely won’t have to play Villanova until the Big East title game. The loss is the second in a row for Seton Hall and the their third loss in four games.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • CARSEN EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards finished with 22 points, eight assists, two steals and no turnovers as the No. 3 Boilermakers blew out Iowa on the road.
  • MALIK NEWMAN, Kansas: Newman finished with 24 points and seven boards, including a personal 7-0 run with three minutes left to help No. 10 Kansas remain in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 70-67 win over Baylor.
  • BRYCE BROWN, Auburn: Brown finished with 28 points as Auburn erased a 14-point halftime deficit to knock off Georgia 79-65 and remain within a game of first-place in the SEC.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: In a win over No. 24 Kansas State, TCU’s second-straight win over a ranked team, Wade went for 20 pints, six boards, six assists, two blocks and two steals.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Houston landed themselves their first marquee win of the season as they pounded No. 7 Wichita State in Houston, 73-59. Rob Gray led the way with 24 points and four assists, putting the Cougars in a position where earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament is feasible. There is still plenty of work left to do, but this is the start they needed.

The bigger question mark, however, is Wichita State, who also lost at home to SMU this week. The Shockers are nowhere near as good as many expected them to be. Their offense isn’t good enough to make up for the fact that they aren’t guarding anyone.

GAME OF THE DAY

Trae Young went for 48 points, 34 of which came after halftime as the Sooners erased a 19-point deficit, but thanks to a Kendall Smith three at the end of regulation, this game went into overtime. Young had shots at the buzzer in regulation and in overtime to win the game and missed both, as the Pokes escaped with an 83-81 win.

Young needed 39 shots to get those 48 points. We went through whether or not that is too many shots for him here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Iowa State, who can’t guard anyone and is probably the worst team in the Big 12 this season, knocked off No. 8 Texas Tech, 70-52. The Red Raiders have now lost three of their last four games – all of which came on the road – after winning at Kansas. Texas Tech is also now just 1-3 in the four games since Zach Smith broke his foot, but they also beat Baylor by 24 points and won at Kansas when Smith played 10 total minutes.

So you explain Texas Tech to me. Because I don’t get it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

The Florida Gators moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC thanks to a 66-64 win at No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday. It was hardly a pretty game – Florida shot 33 percent from the floor and 6-for-30 from three – but the Gators were able to hang on thanks to a questionable no-call in the final seconds.

No. 20 Clemson held on to beat Notre Dame at home on Saturday, 67-58, but missing out on a commitment from Zion Williamson wasn’t the only bad news of the day. Star forward Donte Grantham went down with a knee injury midway through the second half. He averages 14.3 points and 7.1 boards. Losing him would be disastrous for the Tigers.

No. 14 Arizona had to rally down the stretch, but the Wildcats did. Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the second half at Stanford, the Wildcats survived as Dorian Pickens missed a three at the buzzer. The win puts Arizona all alone in first place in the Pac-12.

Jalen Brunson scored 23 points and Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points off the bench as No. 1 Villanova blew out UConn in Hartford, 81-61.

No. 13 Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both won, meaning that the Gaels still hold a one game lead over the Zags in the WCC. Nevada knocked off Boise State, giving the Wolf Pack a two-game lead in the Mountain West.

At this point, Pitt barely counts as ACC competition. But they are and No. 5 Duke beat them 81-54 tonight.

Jevon Carter went for 22 points and eight assists as No. 6 West Virginia knocked off Texas, 86-51. The game was closer than the final score indicates, as the Mountaineers pulled away late.

The star of the day for No. 12 Cincinnati was Gary Clark, who finished with 14 points, 14 boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks, in an 86-60 win over East Carolina.

Luke Maye went for 17 points and 11 boards to lead four players in double figures as No. 15 North Carolina held on to beat Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech, 80-66.

It ended up not being much of a game when the Big Ten invaded Madison Square Garden as No. 22 Ohio State put a beating on Minnesota, 67-49. Minnesota lost Jordan Murphy to an ankle injury in the game as well.

You Make The Call: Did Kentucky’s P.J. Washington get fouled?

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There was a controversial finish to Florida’s 66-64 win over No. 18 Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Saturday night.

Florida had taken a 45-37 lead on the Wildcats before Kentucky fought back, eventually pulling ahead before the Gators surged back in front. A pair of threes and a missed front-end set up a situation where the Wildcats had the ball, down 66-64, on the final possession of the game, leading to this play:

P.J. Washington drives to the rim and appears to get hit in the head by Jalen Hudson. Hudson initially gets his hand on top of the ball, but as Washington’s momentum carries him, Hudson rakes Washington across the face and pushes his head back with his elbow.

It’s not intentional, but the contact is clearly there.

Did the referees blow this call?

If they did, the call could end up determining the SEC regular season champion. Entering Saturday, both Kentucky and Florida were tied for the league lead at 5-1 in the conference. They play again on the season’s final weekend in Gainesville.

Norvell helps No. 13 Gonzaga bounce back to beat Santa Clara

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, and No. 13 Gonzaga bounced back from its first conference loss of the season to beat Santa Clara 75-60 on Saturday night.

Josh Perkins added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Rui Hachimura scored 16 points and Killian Tillie had 12. Johnathan Williams had nine points and eight boards for Gonzaga (17-4, 7-1 West Coast Conference), including his 400th career rebound.

Two days after a 74-71 home loss to Saint Mary’s that ended Gonzaga’s six-game winning streak, the Bulldogs had trouble shaking the pesky Broncos (7-13, 4-4) until Norvell found his stroke after halftime.

Norvell made pair of 3s, a short jumper and a layup in the first 7 ½ minutes of the second half, scored on an offensive rebound as part of a 12-0 run, and then made a fast-break one-handed dunk to put the Bulldogs up 75-41.

It was Gonzaga’s 17th consecutive win over the Broncos and improved coach Mark Few’s record to 40-4 against Santa Clara.

KJ Feagin scored 21 points for the Broncos.

Unlike the first game between the teams this season, when Gonzaga built 27-point lead by halftime on the way to a win in Spokane, Santa Clara kept it close early despite struggling from beyond the arc.

The Broncos missed eight of their first nine 3-point attempts but were tied with 8 ½ minutes left in the first half following Josip Vrankic’s driving layup that had the crowd at Leavey Center roaring.

Part of the problem for Gonzaga was the Bulldogs’ inability to keep Feagin from getting to the basket. He had 12 points in the first 20 minutes, made three layups and tipped in his own miss to help Santa Clara close within seven at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have not lost back-to-back games this season and looked good after a somewhat slow start. Norvell provided a huge boost but the Zags also got another big game from Hachimura, who has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.

Santa Clara: Coming off a win at San Francisco, the Broncos made a splash in the first half at home to keep things interesting. They never had the Bulldogs on their heels, but it was a much better effort than their first meeting.

No. 10 Kansas rallies late to beat Baylor, 70-67

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self has relied on a four-guard lineup all season, one that is designed to attack the basket aggressively, draw fouls and get to the free throw line.

He was fortunate one of those four guards stepped up Saturday night.

Malik Newman scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the final minutes, bailing out the rest of his sluggish teammates, and Baylor turned the ball over on the last inbounds play as the No. 10 Jayhawks escaped with a 70-67 victory that kept them atop the Big 12.

“We were lucky,” Self said, “to have one guy out there putting defense on its heels.”

The Jayhawks (16-3, 6-1 Big 12) trailed 67-61 with 2:05 to go before Newman went on his scoring binge, giving them the slimmest of leads again. The Bears (12-7, 2-5) had a couple of chances after that, but Manu Lecomte missed a 3-pointer and a layup attempt high off the glass with three seconds left.

Devonte Graham added a pair of free throws before Baylor squandered a chance at the final shot.

“(Newman) put us on his back and all we needed was to get those stops,” Graham said, “and we did.”

It was the Jayhawks’ 11th consecutive win over the Bears, who have never won in 16 tries in Lawrence. It was also the closest Baylor has come during any of those games.

Graham finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Udoka Azubuike had 14 points and seven boards, but he was just 4 of 11 from the foul line and missed two crucial ones late.

Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 14 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out for Baylor. Nuni Omot added 14 points and Lecomte had 10, though he was 3 of 12 from the floor and 1 of 8 from the 3-point arc.

“Very frustrating. We’re as good a team as them. We know we can beat them,” Lecomte said. “They’re a really good team. They never give up. Next time we have to make sure we keep that lead.”

Allen Fieldhouse has been Baylor coach Scott Drew’s personal house of horrors — the closest he had come to winning had been the Bears’ 73-68 loss last season. And when the Jayhawks opened the game by making their first seven shots and taking an 18-5 lead, it looked as if this one would be no different.

It took Drew burning through nearly all his timeouts to settle Baylor down.

Shots eventually stopped falling for Kansas as the Bears picked up their defensive pressure, and their deficit dwindled to 32-26 before a late flurry left them in a 38-27 halftime hole.

Kansas began the second half determined to get Azubuike the ball in the paint, and he made good on his first couple of chances. But when he failed to execute a few times in a row, Self greeted him during a timeout with, “Are you kidding me?” — spiced up with an extra word.

The Jayhawks still led 52-47 midway through the second half when Baylor went on a 16-4 run.

Omot started it with a bucket in the paint, but it was seven free throws by the senior forward that did the real damage. Lual-Acuil’s basket with 4:39 left gave Baylor a 61-56 advantage.

The Bears scored on nine consecutive possessions down the stretch.

Newman finally turned the momentum, though. He converted a three-point play and a nifty drive on a run-out, then knocked down another basket to give Kansas a 68-67 lead with a minute left.

“When the game is on the line, Coach always says that players make plays,” he said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and we came out with a win.”

HONORING JO JO

Kansas honored two-time All-American Jo Jo White with a video tribute before tipoff. The seven-time NBA All-Star, whose jersey hangs from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, died Tuesday at the age of 71.

BYE, BYE BILLY

Kansas freshman Billy Preston signed with a pro team in Bosnia on Friday, ending any chance the five-star prospect will play for the Jayhawks. Preston had been held out all season while the school looked into the finances of the car he was driving during a November accident.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor has lost its last five games to the Jayhawks by a combined 20 points, no doubt adding to Drew’s frustration. Six of the Bears’ seven losses this season have come against ranked teams.

Kansas has won five straight to grab ahold of the Big 12 race, though none of them have been very comfortable. The Jayhawks’ winning streak has been by a combined 18 points.

Zion Williamson’s commitment gives Duke perhaps its best recruiting class ever

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Zion Williamson ended his recruitment and committed to Duke during a ceremony in his high school on Saturday night. The five-star forward from Spartanburg, SC is the most popular high school basketball player since LeBron James, drawing tens of millions of YouTube views and sellout crowds around the country to watch him play.

Landing a top-five prospect and a 6-foot-6, 275-pound forward like Williamson is a huge get for the Blue Devils. It’s also a bit of a shocker to see Duke win this recruiting battle for Williamson as in-state Clemson was considered by many to be the favorite to keep the local star at home. Williamson became a legend in South Carolina, playing to giant crowds, winning multiple state titles and constantly getting recognized in public.

The local stardom turned national and eventually international. Drake got a customized Williamson jersey at one point. When Williamson went to Italy for the Adidas Eurocamp he was recognized there on the street. Millions of people witnessed Williamson’s Las Vegas showdown with LaVar and LaMelo Ball at the Adidas Summer Championships.

And although Williamson is a top-five talent who should help make Duke a better team in the ACC, he gives them perhaps their best recruiting class of all time. Williamson joins R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish and Tre Jones in the Class of 2018 recruiting haul. Many scouting services have some combination of Barrett, Reddish and Williamson as the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 prospects in the country. Jones isn’t far behind and still in the top ten.

Watching Barrett, Williamson, Reddish and Jones play together is going to be absolutely fascinating on so many levels. It’s four playmakers who are all talented with the ball in their hands and Barrett, Reddish and Williamson are all potential multi-positional players.

The basketball community has plenty of debates about how Williamson’s NBA stock will play out and how his intriguing skill level will be used at the college level. Watching Williamson live is like seeing a Pro Bowl defensive lineman who explodes off the ground for violent dunks. He’s been compared to throwback players like Larry Johnson and Charles Barkley.

What position will Williamson play? Will Williamson be at his best with the ball in his hands on offense? How will Williamson’s inconsistent perimeter jumper look? Will that perimeter jumper allow Williamson to play on the wing? Can Williamson power through bigger players at the college level? A man among boys at the high school level, Williamson will face legitimately-sized competition at every turn next season.

Duke is going to be riveting to watch no matter where Williamson plays. Williamson could wind up being a star at the college level who has legitimate NBA question marks. The Blue Devils have a potential all-conference player on their hands. We won’t know how Williamson truly looks until he’s fully in-shape and running with an offense that has been suited to help him succeed. Since Williamson has been battling injuries for his senior season, he hasn’t been at his best basketball shape all season. But once Williamson gets healthy and dialed in, he could be one of college basketball’s most fascinating case studies in recent memory.

The Blue Devils have a shocking amount of talent once again next season. It could be their best recruiting class ever — which is really saying something for a Coach K team in the one-and-done era. Now how will it all come together?