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A freshman shouldn't be as steady as Kevin Puryear

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MUtigers.com: @MizzouHoops Topples Omaha 85-78 For Third Consecutive Win

Mizzou's defense limited Omaha to 10-of-30 (33.3-percent) shooting in the first half, keying a 10-0 scoring run midway through the opening half to stretch their lead to 30-18. Mizzou's front-court attack took control in the first half, outscoring the Mavericks 18-8 down low in the paint.

Seven Tigers reached the scoreboard in the first half as the team shot 50-percent (14-for-28) from the field. The second half kicked off in similar fashion for the home team as Mizzou used an early 14-6 run to extend its largest lead of the game to 15 points.

The Trib: Tigers hold off Omaha for third straight victory

Puryear led four MU players in double figures and finished with 18 points and a career-high eight rebounds. He now has scored at least 10 points in seven of his first eight college games.

He still got help down the stretch from Clark making free throws, Ryan Rosburg stepping in with four fouls to take a charge and draw the fifth against Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman — who compounded the mistake by arguing his way to a technical — and Phillips, who salvaged a near turnover by swiping the ball out of the hands of an Omaha player and scoring an uncontested layup that pushed the lead to 72-62 as the clock ticked under four minutes.

Post-Dispatch: Mizzou hangs on, wins third straight

Like their last two wins, the Tigers built an early lead only to require a standoff against their mid-major conference visitors. Down 15 five minutes into the second half, the Mavericks of the Summit League climbed back within five on Tre’Shawn Thurman’s jumper with 8:45 left.

Again, like their last two wins, the Tigers squished the rally before it got too big to handle. On his way to a team-high 18 points, freshman forward Kevin Puryear put Mizzou back in charge with a personal 5-0 run on a jumper, free throw and hook shot. Two minutes later, Thurman picked up his fifth foul, plus a technical foul, costing Omaha its second-best scorer. The Tigers maintained control the rest of the way despite losing their best two ball-handlers for the final two minutes when Terrence Phillips fouled out and Wes Clark crashed into a table along the baseline, requiring staples in his head after the game.

The Missourian: Missouri men's basketball holds on for win against Nebraska-Omaha

Missouri coach Kim Anderson said after the game that he reminded his players about the importance of ball-handling every day during practice leading up to the matchup against the Mavericks. The Tigers' struggles persisted, as they finished with 18 turnovers in the win.

"It was an ugly game," Anderson said. "But that's probably the way they wanted it to be."

Missouri's point guards lost the ball at both ends of the floor due partly to the Nebraska-Omaha players' quick hands.

PowerMizzou: Tigers win, big test looms

"I thought this one might be a little bit different because of the way they played us," Anderson said. "I thought in the others, I thought we tended to relax a little bit. This one, I thought they did a good job. I really did."

So what we've learned is the Tigers can beat teams like the three they played this week with 25 good minutes. That seems likely to change in a hurry. Up next is 13th-ranked Arizona. The Wildcats are 8-1 on the season fresh off wins over Gonzaga and Fresno State with a loss to Providence the lone blemish.

***

Your Trifecta: Puryear-Gant-Walton. Freshman, sophomore, freshman.

Your Season Totals: Puryear 13, Phillips 11, Wright 6, Gant 5, VanLeer 4, Isabell 3, Clark 2, Walton 3, Woods 1. Freshmen 31, sophomores 14, juniors 3, seniors 0.

With two good games, Gant goes from scoreless in the Trifecta race to fourth.

Missouri 85, UNO 78

Mizzou
UNO
Pace (No. of Possessions) 80.1
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.06 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.63 1.28
2-PT FG% 52.8% 51.3%
3-PT FG% 37.5% 22.7%
FT% 76.3% 74.2%
True Shooting % 61.8% 52.3%
FTA/FGA 73.1% 50.8%
Mizzou UNO
Assists 13 14
Steals 9 9
Turnovers 18 16
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.22 1.44
Mizzou UNO
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.1 13.9
Offensive Rebounds 6 9
Difference -5.1 -4.9
  • UNO basically does three things reliably: force turnovers, get to the line, and send you to the line. Well ... you could say that the Mavericks dictated this game then. Mizzou turned the ball over 18 times (albeit over a brisk 80 possessions, which makes the rate of turnovers semi-acceptable), and the two teams combined for 51 fouls and 69 free throw attempts. Bleh.
  • That said, Mizzou was able to ease ahead late in the first half and was never truly nervous the rest of the way. We all want to see the Tigers lay the hammer down at some point, just to know that they can, but that's not the way this home stand has gone. Mizzou has won games by slightly more than projected, which means these results aren't terrible. But ... man ... up 25 on ASU ... up 15 on UNO ... a 20-point win of some kind would just feel awesome.
  • Mizzou basically has three specific weaknesses at the moment: the Tigers do not turn opponents over enough, they foul faaaaar too much (and they foul guards who make their FTs), and they have no presence on the offensive glass. They are shooting infinitely better this year, which means that offensive rebounding isn't quite as big a deal, I guess, but the fouls are still prevalent. That they actually forced 16 turnovers on UNO yesterday was a nice step forward. Of the next three opponents, Arizona has a little bit of a turnovers issue and NC State and Illinois very much do not. Keep that in mind, I guess.
  • Seriously, neither team had any presence on the offensive glass in this game, and it felt like half of Mizzou's six offensive rebounds came on one possession. But by once again going over 60% in the True Shooting department, Mizzou was hurt far less by this than UNO.

Mizzou Player Stats

(Definitions at the bottom of the post.)

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kevin Puryear 23.9 0.96 25 Min, 18 Pts (5-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 7-8 FT), 8 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Jakeenan Gant 14.7 0.73 20 Min, 11 Pts (3-6 FG, 5-7 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO
K.J. Walton 13.3 1.33 10 Min, 10 Pts (3-3 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-4 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Namon Wright 9.6 0.32 30 Min, 9 Pts (1-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 7-8 FT), 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 2 PF
Terrence Phillips 8.2 0.32 26 Min, 14 Pts (5-10 FG, 3-5 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO, 5 PF
Russell Woods 6.9 0.46 15 Min, 6 Pts (3-3 FG), 2 Reb (1 Off), 3 PF
Wes Clark 6.3 0.23 27 Min, 8 Pts (2-8 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4-5 FT), 2 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 2 PF
Cullen VanLeer 1.4 0.07 19 Min, 3 Pts (1-4 FG, 1-3 3PT), 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 PF
Ryan Rosburg 0.6 0.03 19 Min, 4 Pts (2-4 FG), 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 4 PF
Tramaine Isabell 0.1 0.02 9 Min, 2 Pts (0-0 FG, 2-4 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Kevin Puryear 23% 53% 2.1 29% 39% 28% 5%
Jakeenan Gant 23% 42% 1.5 0% 50% 42% 8%
K.J. Walton 27% 60% 1.7 0% 44% 42% 15%
Namon Wright 19% 34% 3.2 62% 16% 15% 8%
Terrence Phillips 26% 34% 2.1 28% 47% 7% 19%
Russell Woods 9% 100% 0.5 0% 100% 0% 0%
Wes Clark 23% 32% 3.5 62% 21% 9% 8%
Cullen VanLeer 10% 28% 1.3 60% 40% 0% 0%
Ryan Rosburg 15% 34% 1.6 50% 34% 0% 17%
Tramaine Isabell 24% 23% 3.3 50% 0% 24% 26%
  • When Kevin Puryear signed, I saw a decent amount of hand-wringing regarding his athleticism. He isn't particularly quick, which means he might not be a natural on the wing. Plus, while he looks bigger, he's still just 6'7, 236. Not a prototypical big man. But the dude can play basketball. He might not be a high-ceiling player (by normal definitions, anyway), but he raises Mizzou's floor. A freshman shouldn't be this steady and consistent. But he'll get a major test over the next two games. Arizona and NC State both have nice height, and against Arizona, Puryear might end up going up against Ryan Anderson a decent amount. We'll find out a little bit about that ceiling soon enough.
  • HEY, JAKEENAN. We'll see how much Gant plays against AZ, which has not only Anderson (6'9, 235), but also rebounding machine Dusan Ristic. But against a team like UNO, without a ton of mass, Gant was once again able to find a nice niche. More, please.
  • K.J. Walton sure packed a lot into 10 minutes: three FG attempts, four free throws, two rebounds, two steals ... and also a turnover and two fouls. If you look at the %Fouled and %TO numbers above, you see that Walton and Tramaine Isabell were both at 50+% combined. In a game that required decent ball control, I guess Kim Anderson wasn't looking for guards forcing the issue quite that much -- the two combined to play only 19 minutes ... especially when you've already got Terrence Phillips putting up nine combined fouls and turnovers (albeit in tons more touches).
  • But seriously, as soon as Phillips better adapts to how fouls are called, he's going to be something else.

Summary

Mizzou has played at or slightly above its projected level in the six non-Kansas City games on the schedule so far. That's good, but the Kansas City dud means the Tigers still only rank 173rd in Pomeroy's rankings. That means the following projections:

Arizona 77, Mizzou 61 (Mizzou's chance of winning: 6%)
NC State 72, Mizzou 71 (43%)
Illinois 74, Mizzou 69 (32%)

That means Mizzou has a 1% chance of going 3-0, a 16% chance of going 2-1, a 47% chance of going 1-2, and a 36% chance of going 0-3. Or, to put that another way, Mizzou has a 64% chance of winning at least one game. I'd love to see more, but I'll just say that going 1-2 would be a sign of potential growth. And with wins over UAPB and Savannah State at the turn of the calendar, that would mean an 8-5 non-conference performance. That's not amazing, but I would take it. The bar is pretty low after you go 9-23, but winning one of the next three would be a sign that Mizzou is on its way toward clearing that bar. And this game showed both why clearing the bar is possible and why Mizzou isn't likely to clear it by much.

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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.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor." Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession. For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range. For shooting guards and wings, 2-3. For an offensively limited center, 1.30. You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.