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Mizzou Hoops Wrap-Up, Game 4: Arizona

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Arizona is an early favorite to go to the final four. Missouri um... isn't.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I'm going to try to keep this somewhat abbreviated, as there's another game at 1 pm today, Bill has already posted his Study Hall, and I want to make sure I get my thoughts up before I really have to work for my actual job. :)

So here it goes. Since I've posted the raw shooting numbers in the last few wrap-ups, I wanted to continue that trend so we can watch this team go through their process in figuring out ways around their obvious scoring deficiencies. I think moving forwards I'll keep the numbers separated by games until a pack of 5 games have been played, and try to keep these segments of the season separate to watch any progress that might happen.

Arizona is an elite defense. Sean Miller not only has great athletes at all positions, but he gets them all to play really tough disciplined defense. This is what we ended up with.

UMKC VALPO ORU ZONA
FG% 38.1 40.0 51.0 36.4
3FG% 21.7 23.5 57.1! 23.1
FT% 50.0 85.7 55.2 69.2
FG 24-63 20-50 25-49 16-44
3FG 5-23 4-17 12-21 3-13
FT 8-16 12-14 16-29 18-26
Reb -5 +9 +1 +2

The Tigers had their worst shooting performance on a night they also turned the ball over 17 times in a game that had a pace in the low 60s. That's a pretty bad combination that's going to lose to a lot of teams that aren't Arizona. I kind of figured that Mizzou would be able to force the Cats into taking some bad shots, and they did. Early on when those shots weren't falling, Missouri was able to stay in the game (Arizona started 0-8 from three before hitting their last two before halftime). That sort of effort defensively will help Missouri stay in most games in the SEC (positives), but isn't going to keep them in games against elite teams (negatives). If there was a good sign in all of it, it was that Missouri didn't exactly look out of place against one of the most athletic teams they'll face. The difference is that just about every guy Arizona brings into the game is an elite athlete and defender, meanwhile Missouri just doesn't have that same level of depth. This sort of game is good for the coaches to see the exact areas on the floor that they'll need to get better in order to have the kind of team that Arizona has: a final four contender.

If there was a bright spot offensively, it was that Johnathan Williams III played an aggressive and attacking game on the offensive end. And as probably our best athlete, he needed to do that. He looked like JW3 for the first time this season. If Missouri can keep JW3 attacking on offense, MGC having efficient offensive games, and get Wes Clark playing like he was in the last few, the Tigers should be adequate enough offensively to get close to 20 wins.

Point Guards

Eight of the 17 turnovers came from our Point Guards, including 4 from Shamburger, who overall played well. I think it was clear that Wes Clark came out with great energy, which all seemed to go downhill the minute he stumbled and banged up his knee. After that spill Clark seemed largely ineffective and wasn't able to have the same kind of impact he's had in the last few (also part of that should be credited to Arizona, who -- again -- is pretty good at defense). It's also becoming more evident that Isabell just isn't quite as ready as Kim Anderson may have hoped, as he played another game of less than 10 minutes. And watching his 9 minutes last night, you can see that he's still a bit overwhelmed but college level talent. I still think he'll get there, as he's coming from a much different place than a guy like Gill-Caesar.

Effort

Out-rebounding the #3 (I found it funny that the previously #2 ranked team had their ranking corrected at halftime where it seemed Missouri made them look bad enough to drop a spot in the polls -- internet jokes) team in the country says a lot of where this team came from in it's readiness to compete. Many of the turnovers were of the "trying to make a play" variety, and not the "lazy" variety. While the effort was good, they were still only able to force Arizona into turning the ball over 6 times.

Balance

I like that we got to see more from Namon Wright. Wright had a couple negative "freshman" moments while he was on the court, but athletically his body is ready. I think we'll continue to see him get better throughout the year, which is something this team is going to need. He finally got a 3-pointer to drop, which I'm hoping that he takes and builds on that with his confidence. He's a guy that can help this team this year.

  • Keith Shamburger: 31 minutes
  • Wes Clark: 29 minutes
  • Montaque Gill-Caesar: 29 minutes
  • Johnathan Williams III: 28 minutes
  • Keanau Post: 25 minutes
  • Ryan Rosburg: 14 minutes
  • Namon Wright: 14 minutes
  • D'Angelo Allen: 13 minutes
  • Tramaine Isabell: 9 minutes
  • Deuce Bello: 8 minutes
Kim Anderson is still getting to 10 guys in his rotation. And it's working for the most part. Rosburg seemed to really struggle yesterday against the more athletic guys on the Wildcats roster, but acquitted himself nicely when he was able to guard Caleb Tarczewski. Post played a lot and didn't hurt Mizzou too much, he had one pretty awful turnover, and almost the greatest defensive play I've seen him make.

Post moved his feet and did a great job on Tarczewski who was trying to make an offensive move. As a post defender, if you can force your player under the basket you make sure he stays behind the backboard, which Post did. Then he just reached in and tried to block the shot instead of keeping his hands up. He's already won the battle, then he bailed out Tarczewski.

All in all, this is a game that we expected Missouri to lose, and I felt if they kept it under 15 they would have acquitted themselves pretty well. They didn't quite do that, but the game never felt like it completely got away from the Tigers. As Bill said in his post, they had the 7 point turn around on shots that very easily could have gone down that made the difference in the first half, and then a 6-0 flurry to start the second and Missouri was buried. They just aren't good enough offensively to overcome that. There were certainly some positives to be taken out of this game, and it's going to be a long season at times as we watch these young guys grow.

And, at least we're not Vols fans... things are getting ugly in Knoxville.