Missouri 68, N.C. State 64: Two Post-Game Thoughts

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri brought it's "How to Steal a Road Win" Manual (edited by Dean Oliver) and ran it play by play.

1. Page One Reads, "You Must Defend."

True Shooting %: Mizzou 53.6%, NCSU 47.6% (by my calculations).

Missouri's defense is the story of the game. Even though the jump shots weren't dropping for much of the evening, Missouri never let NC State run away and hide. T.J. Warren got his points, efficiently even, off of very few designed plays. (Take notes, JW3.) That kind of guy can be very difficult to defend. But boy, did Missouri defend. Consider that the 'Pack got up 11 more shots than the Tigers (62 to 51) and had only eight turnovers. Yet they still shot under 50% (TS) at home.

The Tigers did it the hard way. They forced a bunch of tough takes with good, in-your-shirt defense. (Jabari Brown was just fantastic at the end of the game crowding the shooter and staying on the release without fouling. What a difference a year makes.) They closed out possessions by corralling almost 64% of N.C. State's misses. Even though it felt like N.C. State was hitting a tough, contested shot every time the Tigers got close (I'm looking at you Kyle Washington), they missed plenty.

2. Page Two Reads, "You Must Get to The Free Throw Line."

The footnote at the bottom of page two reads, "And don't foul." A big reason for the TS% difference is that the Tigers kept the 'Pack off the line. They only took 14 free throws (on 61 field goal attempts) while the Tigers shot 26, nearly twice as many. The Tigers committed to driving the ball rather than settling for long jumpers that so often fuel the opponent's running game. They also benefited from poor N.C. State free throw shooting. These are the little things that all too often didn't happen last season.

Bonus Point: The Big Men Contributed

Obviously, it's important for Missouri to get positive contributions from its PF and C. Johnathan Williams III had his best overall game in quite some time, including a big FT at the end to put the game out of reach. He was efficient from the floor. He got tough boards. And he played good defense, even though Kyle Washington had a brief stretch where he couldn't miss. Ryan Rosburg was all over the place, setting screens, getting crucial rebounds, keeping others alive, and rotating on defense without fouling. So, bully for those guys. They needed a good positive win.

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