Well, at least it's getting to be more fun eh? Watching basketball, especially college basketball, especially college basketball in the B1G, can be pretty brutal most nights. If you had the displeasure of watching Maryland and Michigan State maul each other through 2 OTs before the Terps secured the half-nelson and put the Spartans to sleep, you'll understand what I mean. What happened last night in Kansas City wasn't that. It was good, clean and (mostly) fun basketball to watch.
So a serious thanks to our Tigers and the Okie State Cowboys for making basketball fun to watch.
Some of the most fun last night was watching the passion that this team has been playing with. Johnathan Williams is turning into a beast. He's overtaken the team lead in points per game, and in the last 6 games has put on a show. 17.3 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game in the last 6. He's becoming the player Missouri needs him to be. The best part of this is that he's a sophomore, and with another season of experience can be even more dangerous. When you talk about the bright future of this team, most of it is because of the youth, but if JW3 had another consistent scorer on this team THIS year, Missouri would be a very dangerous team. Oh, Jabari...
The guts though. I had a couple tweets last night that I think speak to this:
Down 5 with 1:50 to go, we’re about to see if this young team can pull off a miracle. Experience doesn’t often lose that lead this late.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) December 31, 2014
Seriously, I love these guys. They aren’t the best team, but they have guys who have guts. Isabell, Clark, JW3, Teki, Allen… All guts.— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) December 31, 2014
They were down 5 points with under two minutes and gave themselves a chance to play extra basketball. Youth can be exciting, but what gets me more excited about this team and it's players is the guts. They've got a lot of guys that play with guts, aren't afraid to take big shots, and will learn to do the little things to turn these close losses into wins. And maybe soon.
So with that said, let's review the keys to the game from the OSU Preview, and figure out why they lost?
1) Le'Bryan Nash = Rayvonte Rice?
If you watched the telecast, as I did, you probably noticed the announcers Eamon McAnaney and Miles Simon (side note: I really like Simon as a color guy, he's done several Mizzou games this year, and has been very even handed about the team) talked about how Nash seemed to be checked out and not interested early on in the game. It was evident through his 1-6 start at the Free Throw line, which for him, it's pretty terrible. His FD/40 (Fouls Drawn per 40 minutes -- not some offshoot of WD40) went from 5th to 3rd in the country because he drew a lot of fouls on Missouri. He was only 4-7 from the field, but was 13-18 from the FT line. Getting to the line that many times is one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason, why Oklahoma State was able to pull out the win.
2) Win Pace
Missouri actually did a fantastic job of dictating pace in this game. You can check the stats in Bill's Study Hall, but pace is exactly where Missouri needed it to be to win this battle. In the high 60's, for an Overtime game. They nearly matched OSU's BCI, and only had one more turnover than the Cowboys. Missouri also had it's fewest number of turnovers against a power 5 team last night, something that becomes even bigger when you consider that is a strength of the Cowboys. Illinois, Arizona and Xavier are all teams that do NOT force high rates of turnovers, and Missouri held onto the ball way more than they have. Another sign of progress.
3) Easy Points
Not great here. Frankly by allowing Le'Bryan Nash, by himself, to attempt 18 FT's, Missouri left themselves open in this game way too much. In the preview, we talked about how a change in the lineup will help Missouri in someways, and Oklahoma State's lineup helped them not be overtaken too much in the size categories you worry about, namely rebounding, where Missouri played the Cowboys to a draw.
Things are getting better offensively. They aren't there yet, and with another year in the weight room, Teki, Gant and JW3 will all be better players. Late in the game, when Teki travelled just before making a big shot from the block, the reason he travelled is because he wasn't strong enough to move the defender off his spot. The defender is a senior. When Teki puts on a few extra pounds, he's gonna convert that shot a lot in the future, without the travel.
A rough shooting night from Keith Shamburger hurt this team a lot. Shamburger isn't the flashiest guy, but Mizzou needs him to knock down a shot from time to time, and he didn't do that. That said, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and ZERO turnovers... yes, I'll take that. He also doesn't get the credit, but the out of bounds save to Gant who scored on a fast break should be an assist. He made that play. I'll take that kind of night from Shamburger every night, just please make ONE of your shots next time.
Clark had not terrible game. He shows flashes of brilliance, he had a couple drives to the basket that were WHY you have to like his future. He went O-fer from 3, and had 3 turnovers, but he also seemed to take more control of the ball at the PG position, which was nice to see.
Isabell... what a huge shot to send the game to OT. What an awful forced turnover with time running low in overtime. Freshmen giveth, and they taketh away. But the guts of the three point shot is why you have to like his future and what he can provide this team moving forward.
Fighting Oklahoma State to a draw on the glass is a net positive. They're going to have to fight to stay in the rebounding battle against some of the bigger front lines in the SEC. But overall you just feel this team is fighting way more than they used to. The level of effort they came out playing with last night was exceptional. The biggest key in this part is what happens when they go back to Mizzou Arena, and have to play in front of 4500 fans against Lipscomb?
I think we've seen the last of Keanau Post. There may have been a time where he helped this team, I think that time has passed.
- Keith Shamburger - 40 minutes
- Johnathan Williams III - 39 minutes
- Wes Clark - 36 minutes
- Montaque Gill-Caesar - 30 minutes
- Jakeenan Gant - 22 minutes
- Namon Wright - 16 minutes
- D'Angelo Allen - 16 minutes
- Tramaine Isabell - 14 minutes
- Ryan Rosburg - 12 minutes
The SEC is a bad league though. Florida lost to Florida State last night, Ole Miss lost to Dayton, and Mississippi State has just given up being competitive by losing to McNeese State by 19. There are currently only two SEC teams that are ranked higher than Oklahoma State in KenPom. So Mizzou can be competitive in this league.
Hopefully they'll dispatch Lipscomb with ease and keep that momentum marching forward.