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Kevin Puryear was a beast against Illinois, but Missouri was done in by perimeter woes

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Giving Braggin’ Rights the Study Hall treatment.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri vs Illinois Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Puryear-Geist-Phillips.

Illinois 75, Missouri 66

Mizzou
Illinois
Pace (No. of Possessions) 69.1
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.96 1.09
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.08 1.53
2-PT FG% 38.1% 53.1%
3-PT FG% 31.6% 41.2%
FT% 76.2% 66.7%
True Shooting % 47.0% 60.3%
FTA/FGA 34.4% 61.2%
Mizzou Illinois
Assists 9 11
Steals 4 3
Turnovers 8 15
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.63 0.93
Mizzou Illinois
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14.7 10.5
Offensive Rebounds 8 7
Difference -6.7 -3.5

Illinois generated about three extra chances by being less awful than Missouri on the offensive glass but gave away eight more possessions to turnovers. That created an environment in which Mizzou needed to simply not shoot horribly from the field to perhaps win the game.

The Tigers shot horribly from the field, of course. It’s what they do.

Their rankings barely changed — they’re still 318th in Effective FG%, 252nd on 2-pointers, 342nd on 3-pointers, and 301st in Block%. (You wonder why they were attempting so many contested mid-range shots yesterday? Because they know they can’t make anything else.)

Mizzou remains in the top 100 in Turnover % on both sides of the court, ranks 116th in Def. Reb. %, and ranks in the mid-100s in FTA/FGA on both sides. Their Eff. FG% defensive rank fell from ninth to 15th but remains solid.

But in the 13:19 between a Jordan Geist fastbreak layup and a 3-pointer from Terrence Phillips with seven seconds left, Mizzou took 19 shots from the field and missed 17 of them. The Tigers missed two layups and five 3-pointers. Many of the misses were missed by a lot.

Nothing else matters when you can’t shoot.

Of course, playing the wrong guys certainly doesn’t make your odds any better.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kevin Puryear 19.5 0.65 30 Min, 17 Pts (5-10 FG, 0-1 3PT, 7-9 FT), 9 Reb (2 Off), 3 TO, 2 PF
Jordan Geist 19.3 1.14 17 Min, 12 Pts (4-6 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT), 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 PF
Terrence Phillips 13.6 0.47 29 Min, 14 Pts (5-12 FG, 3-5 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Russell Woods 10.4 0.43 24 Min, 7 Pts (3-4 FG, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 3 PF
Reed Nikko 4.5 0.32 14 Min, 2 Pts (0-1 FG, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 PF
Willie Jackson 2.9 0.26 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG), 3 Reb (1 Off)
K.J. Walton 1.8 0.60 3 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 1 Stl
Jordan Barnett 1.6 0.11 15 Min, 4 Pts (1-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 Reb (2 Off), 1 Blk, 1 TO
Cullen VanLeer 1.1 0.03 35 Min, 5 Pts (2-8 FG, 1-4 3PT), 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 5 PF
Mitchell Smith -3.2 -3.22 1 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 1 TO, 2 PF
Frankie Hughes -7.9 -0.37 21 Min, 3 Pts (1-11 FG, 1-5 3PT), 1 Ast, 2 PF

I just can’t move past it. Cullen VanLeer and Frankie Hughes combined for 56 minutes and minus-6.8 Adj. GS points. Translation: in 56 minutes of action, they took 6.8 points away from Missouri. Meanwhile, K.J. Walton played for three minutes, generated a steal, and never saw the court again.

Hell, Willie Jackson didn’t even play all that well and still dwarfed the production of his high school teammate (Hughes) and the guy Kim Anderson is terrified of removing from the court (VanLeer).

  • VanLeer & Hughes: 56 minutes, 8 points (3-19 FG, 2-9 3PT), 1 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 7 PF, -6.8 Adj. GS points
  • Walton & Jackson: 14 minutes, 2 points (1-3 FG), 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 4.7 Adj. GS points.

I really am trying to move past this, but I can’t. We now seem to be in a race against time between when Kim Anderson is let go and when/if Walton transfers.

Walton has very clear weaknesses. I don’t want to turn this into a “HE’S CLEARLY THE TEAM’S SAVIOR, BUT KIM REFUSES TO PLAY HIM” kind of thing. He’s the team’s best ball thief, but I understand that there’s more to defense than that. And again, with VanLeer in particular playing an astounding number of minutes, this team has put together pretty good overall defensive numbers. I get it.

Plus, Walton isn’t much of a shooter; he came to Columbia with a pretty poor shooting reputation, and he’s 0-for-5 on 3-pointers this year. And just looking at the form on their jumpers, VanLeer’s shooting potential seems to dwarf that of Walton. Of course...

  • Career 3-point shooting: Walton 11-for-35 (31%), VanLeer 48-167 (29%).

I really, really don’t get it. And I’m not going to. And I know I’m beating a dead horse at this point. Stats aren’t everything, and Walton’s stats aren’t even that good. But VanLeer has played 359 minutes this season, and Walton has played 160, and that infuriates me.

And then I get even madder when I realize that I’m talking about this and not the fact that Kevin Puryear was a beast last night (and he almost did even better — it felt like he had about six and-one opportunities rim out), that an offense running through Puryear and Russell Woods (combined: 24 points on 8-14 FG and 8-11 FT, plus 13 rebounds) could have some merit, and that Jordan Geist played like exactly the kind of pest we hoped he would be this year.

I want to talk about that instead! But none of it mattered because, despite that, Mizzou still averaged fewer than 1 point per possession because of both perimeter shooting and perimeter minutes.

Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Kevin Puryear 29% 40% 2.1 0% 45% 41% 14%
Jordan Geist 23% 64% 3.7 54% 28% 18% 0%
Terrence Phillips 24% 35% 1.5 0% 80% 13% 7%
Russell Woods 13% 58% 2.3 63% 21% 11% 5%
Reed Nikko 7% 43% 1.8 66% 11% 23% 0%
Willie Jackson 14% 30% 0.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Jordan Barnett 27% 17% 1.7 0% 67% 22% 11%
Cullen VanLeer 13% 29% 2.2 66% 30% 0% 4%
Mitchell Smith 51% 0% 2.9 0% 0% 0% 100%
Frankie Hughes 27% 11% 2.3 35% 65% 0% 0%

Full season averages

  • Kevin Puryear: 26.4 min/game, 11.2 Adj. GS/game, 0.43 Adj. GS/min
  • Russell Woods: 21.1 min/game, 8.8 Adj. GS/game, 0.42 Adj. GS/min
  • Terrence Phillips: 25.7 min/game, 7.9 Adj. GS/game, 0.31 Adj. GS/min
  • K.J. Walton: 14.5 min/game, 7.9 Adj. GS/game, 0.54 Adj. GS/min
  • Frankie Hughes: 25.8 min/game, 7.0 Adj. GS/game, 0.27 Adj. GS/min
  • Cullen VanLeer: 32.6 min/game, 6.5 Adj. GS/game, 0.20 Adj. GS/min
  • Willie Jackson: 16.9 min/game, 6.4 Adj. GS/game, 0.38 Adj. GS/min
  • Jordan Geist: 18.4 min/game, 6.1 Adj. GS/game, 0.33 Adj. GS/min
  • Reed Nikko: 13.7 min/game, 5.9 Adj. GS/game, 0.43 Adj. GS/min
  • Mitchell Smith: 8.1 min/game, 2.5 Adj. GS/game, 0.31 Adj. GS/min
  • Jordan Barnett: 19.5 min/game, 1.8 Adj. GS/game, 0.09 Adj. GS/min

Anderson mentioned that one his primary goals in a weeklong break will be to figure out how to pare down his rotation from about 11 players to about eight. Based on per-minute statistical production (and, one more time for effect: I realize stats aren’t everything), we should probably be looking at a lineup something like...

  • Starters: Geist, Walton, Jackson, Puryear, Nikko
  • Bench: Phillips, Hughes, Woods

That’s based purely on stats, obviously. My own nine-man rotation (because honestly, I don’t see the point in only eight):

  • Starters: Phillips, Walton, Jackson, Puryear, Woods
  • Bench: Geist, Hughes/VanLeer, Barnett, Nikko

Instead, here’s what we’re going to get:

  • Starters: Phillips, Hughes, VanLeer, Puryear, Woods
  • Bench: Geist, Jackson, Barnett

I’m angry about this, and it hasn’t even officially happened yet. And there are still 20 games to go in the season.

(Seriously, though, a Geist-Walton-Jackson-Puryear-Nikko lineup sounds fun. It would be a bricklaying disaster, but so is every other combination. You might as well have a fun bricklaying disaster.)