Your ATM trifecta: English-Bowers-Safford. Your winner: nobody. So I guess nemotiger still has bragging rights. Actually, this shows that the trifecta idea is a fun one -- in three games, we've had only one winner. It's harder than you think it's going to be! And apparently, so is winning 33 straight games at home. It was too tough for Mizzou to manage.
Texas A&M 77, Missouri 74
|Points Per Minute
|Points Per Possession (PPP)
|Points Per Shot (PPS)
|True Shooting %||53.4%||58.5%|
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
|Expected Offensive Rebounds||13||12|
Not sure there is a lot to say about this one, all things considered. (But that won't stop me!) A lot of Mizzou's known weaknesses bit them -- they shot 32.1% from 3-point range, they were outrebounded by 8 in terms of expected rebounds (I believe that's the second-worst performance of the season on the boards, behind the Big Monday game in Lawrence), and despite dominating the BCI battle like a Mike Anderson team needs to do, those shortcomings were murder. And a 32-game home winning streak is damn hard to maintain, especially if you're only a good team and not a great one. These things happen, especially against teams (like ATM) that match up very well with Mizzou, and the Aggies have done well the whole time Mike Anderson has been there.
Of course, for those who watched the game, that does not come close to telling the whole story.
Here's what I said in the Tuesday preview:
If ATM wins ... it will play out similar to the Mizzou-OU game from a couple of weeks ago. Mizzou can't get shots to fall, and ATM utilizes their physical half-court offense to control the pace of the game. Mizzou can still win if this happens, but it still favors ATM. Mizzou's FG% is low, and ATM's FTs are high. ATM wins, 72-66.
Mizzou shot a respectable but not great 41.4% (we've seen worse from this team), but ATM shot 15 more free throws than Missouri. After playing exactly the pace they wanted to play at the beginning of the second half, Mizzou let their foot off the accelerator, and ATM shifted the game to their pace, making Mizzou work on both offense and defense, not allowing them to run, and dominating. It was the...
Worst. 13 Minutes. Ever.
With 14:36 left, Kim English made a 3-pointer to put Mizzou up, 52-41. The first 5.5 minutes of the second half had been J.T. Tiller's best of the season. Mizzou was wreaking havoc on defense, getting steals and easy buckets, crashing the boards, making 3-pointers ... it was all clicking. And then everything changed.
It started slowly. Khris Middleton made a 3 for the Aggies, but after Justin Safford missed a short shot, Laurence Bowers grabbed the offensive rebound and swung the ball out to Zaire Taylor for 3. This is how Mizzou applies the dagger. Steve Moore's offensive rebound led to a 3-pointer for Taylor that gave Mizzou the momentum they needed against Oklahoma State, and they went on to roll. When Taylor's shot was in the air, I thought to myself, "If this goes in, it's over." But it didn't go in. ATM missed a shot on the other end, but Donald Sloan stole the ball from J.T. Tiller, leading to a layup. 52-46. Marcus Denmon made a 3 to put Mizzou up 9 again, and ATM missed another jumper. Another opportunity for Mizzou to symbolically put the game away. But Denmon -- the guy I trust more than anybody but Taylor -- missed a jumper, and it was 55-46 heading into the 12:00 timeout. ATM was barely any closer, but they had avoided the death blow.
And then Mizzou's backups came in. This is typical -- it's the middle of the second half, and it's time for Mizzou's second five to soften up the opponent so the first-stringers can finish them off. It's how Mizzou works. Donald Sloan committed a charge, then another foul on the other end. Miguel Paul was running the point, and Steve Moore flashed WIDE FREAKING OPEN in the paint. Time to find fan-favorite Moore for a thunder dunk and put this one away. Only ... Paul either didn't see him or didn't care. Instead, MP3 launched a horrifying pull-up 3-pointer that was both short and a foot to the left. It barely hit the left region of the backboard. Then, after three seconds of great defense double-teaming David Loubeau, Paul got too aggressive and committed a silly foul. There were 10 minutes left, and it was still 55-46, but thanks (in part) to Paul, not only had Mizzou missed another opportunity to nail the casket closed, but now they had no momentum whatsoever.
And then ATM rose from the dead.
I can't tell you how impressed I was by ATM from the 10:00 mark until the final frantic minute. Loubeau and Bryan Davis swallowed Mizzou's forwards whole, not allowing them any opportunity to get the ball in the post. Meanwhile, ATM's guards did not allow any penetration lanes whatsoever. Mizzou was swinging the ball around the perimeter like they need to do, only they had no way to attack, and they started taking panicked runners and mid-range jumpers with 15 seconds left on the shot clock (one drawback of playing the fast-paced system we play: our guys' internal clocks aren't set to 35 seconds; it was pretty clear with the shots they were taking that they thought the shot clock must be expiring, and it wasn't). And on offense, it seemed the better defense Mizzou played, the better ATM executed, making KILLER 3-pointers, making tough post shots, and when they missed those post shots, they savaged the offensive glass. It was Mizzou's fault that ATM got a chance at life again, but ATM deserves an infinite amount of credit for how they played when they got that second chance.
And that dunk by one-time Mizzou recruit Ray Turner over Kim English. SICK. That wasn't Katzenmoyer-hitting-Corby sick, but it was close to the basketball equivalent.
When all was said and done, here was the carnage.
From the 14:36 mark of the second half to the 1:26 mark, a span of 13:10, ATM outscored Mizzou 28-8. Mizzou was 3-for-15 from the field (1-for-7 on 2-pointers, 2-for-8 on 3-pointers, 3-for-6 from the line), while ATM shot 10-for-17 (7-for-14 on 2-pointers, 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, 5-for-10 from the line). ATM grabbed seven offensive rebounds, while Mizzou grabbed six TOTAL rebounds. Laurence Bowers had three of those rebounds, meaning that for 13 minutes in the second half, Mizzou players not named Laurence Bowers grabbed 3 rebounds. Total rebounding margin: 21-6. ATM played great defense, made clutch shots, and hustled the balls off of Mizzou. Again, Mizzou deserves blame for this, but do not forget to give ATM an insane amount of credit. Their point guard is out, their other point guard (Dash Harris) got dinged up, their backcourt was seemingly overmatched, and they played an almost flawless nine minutes, starting at the 10:00 mark.
Sadly, when you look at this 13-minute span, you start to realize just how much Mizzou dominated the other 27 minutes of the game. They started slow in the first half, but here are the stats from the other 27 minutes:
Mizzou 66, ATM 49
MU: 15-for-25 2PT, 7-for-20 3PT, 12-for-15 FG
ATM: 13-for-26 2PT, 3-for-7 3PT, 14-for-26 FT
MU: 8 Off. Reb., 12 Def. Reb., 20 TOTAL REBOUNDS
ATM: 9 Off. Reb., 14 Def. Reb., 23 TOTAL REBOUNDS
But when you drop the dagger against a good team, you can lose, even at home, where you never lose. They even showed some killer instinct, especially with the "Bowers with the offensive board, swing it to Zaire" play. Only, the shot didn't go in, and Mizzou lost their balance.
Mizzou Player Stats
|Kim English||18.0||0.67||27 Min, 15 Pts (5-for-11 FG, 2-for-5 3PT), 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl|
|Laurence Bowers||14.9||0.68||22 Min, 11 Pts (4-for-7 FG, 1-for-2 3PT), 10 Reb (5 Off), 2 Ast, 2 TO|
|Justin Safford||14.5||0.61||24 Min, 12 Pts (4-for-8 FG, 2-for-3 3PT), 3 Stl, 1 Reb|
|J.T. Tiller||8.1||0.31||26 Min, 12 Pts (6-for-13 FG, 0-for-4 3PT), 2 Reb (2 Off), 3 Stl, 2 TO|
|Marcus Denmon||6.4||0.34||19 Min, 9 Pts (2-for-6 FG, 2-for-5 3PT)|
|Steve Moore||3.5||0.50||7 Min, 2 Pts (0-for-0 FG)|
|Zaire Taylor||3.3||0.10||33 Min, 8 Pts (2-for-8 FG, 1-for-5 3PT), 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO|
|Keith Ramsey||3.2||0.13||24 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-1 FG), 3 Stl, 2 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Reb|
|Mike Dixon||3.1||0.24||13 Min, 5 Pts (2-for-4 FG, 1-for-2 3PT), 2 Stl|
|Miguel Paul||-2.4||-0.48||5 Min, 0 Pts (0-for-2 FG)|
* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.
- Odd game from Safford. He showed a lovely shooting touch, especially from long range (and it's hard to overstate the effect a hot-shooting Safford had on this offense last March). But he and Ramsey were just eaten alive on the boards by Loubeau and Davis, who combined for 10 offensive rebounds. He was so ineffective on the glass, especially during ATM's 13-minute run, that it completely negated any positive effect he had. Mizzou players not named Laurence Bowers grabbed just 14 rebounds all game long, and Safford/Ramsey combined for two. TWO. And while Stevie Moore seemed to put in some nice minutes as well, he only had 1 rebound in 7 minutes, meaning Safford, Ramsey and Moore combined for 3 rebounds in 55 minutes. That's a pathetic total for a point guard, much less three of your four top big men. Absolutely unacceptable.
I enjoy how much the students love Moore, and he really is starting to figure out how to contribute better, but it just doesn't matter unless he starts to get dramatically better on the glass. That's why he's in there. I still wish we'd have gotten John Underwood some more minutes in the non-conference season. He's an offensive black hole, but he showed in limited minutes to be potentially the best rebounder on the team (albeit in a small sample size), and if you can't get the ball back from your opponents without giving up three offensive rebounds in a possession, then it doesn't matter how you are on the offensive end (and in Ramsey's case, he was non-existent on that end too).
- I love J.T. Tiller, and I always will, but I'd be willing to say that he has pretty much been the worst shooter among all major-conference guards in the country this year, particularly in conference play. Tiller is a good passer and a great defender, and he's wonderful in transition. That won't change ... but I just don't have the words to describe how much of a liability he is in a half-court offense.
Three Keys Revisited
From Tuesday's preview.
For the game, the pace was fine -- 72 possessions or so. But Mizzou let ATM play their pace over the Worst 13 Minutes Ever, and it allowed ATM to catch their breath and go win the game.
In the end, Mizzou didn't necessarily shoot well from 3-point range (you'll never consider 32% good), but they've certainly shot worse. What killed Mizzou was the fact that ATM almost doubled their season 3-point %. They came in shooting around 31% from long-range, and they shot 60%. Some of them were wide open (often coming after Mizzou almost forced a backcourt turnover but didn't), and a lot of them were well-guarded ... but 60% is pretty good if you're completely alone on the court. Play ATM again, and that probably doesn't happen, but it did when it counted, and it killed Mizzou as much as anything else.
Honestly? I never enjoy Ed Hightower games, but all things considered, the refs could have been a lot worse. Yes, ATM shot a lot more FT's, and yes, I could point out some bad calls, but so could ATM fans. The refs called this game like we would normally want it to be called -- teams were allowed to be physical (most of the time, at least), and that usually benefits Mizzou. But not against the Davis-Loubeau frontcourt.
Buckle up, Mizzou fans. Mizzou's got nine conference games remaining, and aside from the home games against Iowa State and Colorado (which you figure are as sure a win as you can have in this conference), seven of the remaining games are both winnable and losable. Seriously, go down the list. Would it surprise you if Mizzou beat Kansas at home? No. Would it surprise you if they lost at Iowa State, Nebraska or Colorado? No. Mizzou stands at 4-3, and if we can roughly assume victory when ISU/CU visit, that means they stand at six conference wins. To feel safe about a tourney bid, they need to dig up at least two more wins, preferably three. Doesn't matter where they happen, just that they happen.
Mizzou now has to travel to Boulder to play a Colorado team that has narrowly lost to Kansas and Kansas State and beat Baylor ... and lost to pitiful Oregon State and Colorado State squads (plus, they were demolished by Tulsa). Colorado has not handled Mizzou's style even remotely well in recent years, but it's pretty clear that if Mizzou doesn't play well, or if they start settling for pull-up shots again (I'm willing to somewhat forgive what happened for a portion of the second half yesterday, as I really couldn't have been more impressed with ATM's defense ... but Colorado doesn't have the athletes ATM does) and those shots don't go in, CU will happily take a W off of Mizzou, and the Tigers will really have to start scrambling to find the necessary wins to stay safe from the NCAA tourney cut-off.
The streak is over, and for all intents and purposes, the season begins anew on Saturday.