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Good news: Mizzou has just 1 real hoops weakness. Bad news: It’s a killer.

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NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Missouri Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A win is a win is a win, I guess.

MUtigers.com: Hughes' Slick Scoring Leads @MizzouHoops Past WKU, 59-56

The Trib: Missouri withstands late offensive drought, beats Western Kentucky

The Trib (Daniel Jones): Postgame thoughts: Western Kentucky

KC Star: Mizzou men survive late scare against Western Kentucky

The Missourian: Missouri overcomes offensive woes to beat Western Kentucky

B&G Illustrated: Mizzou Hoops Holds On To Top WKU


Your Trifecta: Woods-Hughes-VanLeer.

Missouri 59, WKU 56

Mizzou
WKU
Pace (No. of Possessions) 70
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.84 0.80
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.04 1.08
2-PT FG% 45.5% 48.6%
3-PT FG% 20.8% 20.0%
FT% 66.7% 57.9%
True Shooting % 44.5% 46.4%
FTA/FGA 36.8% 36.5%
Mizzou WKU
Assists 10 11
Steals 10 7
Turnovers 17 15
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.18 1.20
Mizzou WKU
Expected Offensive Rebounds 14.0 12.3
Offensive Rebounds 14 4
Difference 0 -8.3

Something worth mentioning right out of the gates: Mizzou’s defense might be legitimately good. The Tigers are up to 72nd in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency, and while they’re held back a bit by the fact that they foul a bit too much, they’re 91st in Def. Reb. % despite a lack of size, and they are a whopping seventh in Effective FG% allowed.

Some of that is probably artificial — opponents have made a nation’s lowest 24.7% of 3-pointers this year, and that probably won’t continue — but Mizzou is also 42nd in 2PT% allowed. This is a legitimately solid FG% defense.

That’s good ... because the offense ranks 284th at the moment, 280th in FG%, and 328th in 3PT%. Watch a Mizzou game, and you are going to see a hilarious number of bricks at the moment.

It’s a shame the shots aren’t falling for Mizzou, though, because it really does seem like everything else is coming around a bit. Rebounding is a wash, which I’ll take, and while Mizzou had 17 turnovers, the Tigers accounted for some of that with 10 steals. They are breaking even at worst in the ball handling department.

But you’ve got to make shots. Mizzou made just enough to overcome a late drought on Saturday.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Russell Woods 16.6 0.53 31 Min, 10 Pts (4-6 FG, 2-4 FT), 8 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Frankie Hughes 15.1 0.43 35 Min, 18 Pts (5-15 FG, 3-10 3PT, 5-6 FT), 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF
Cullen VanLeer 6.9 0.23 30 Min, 5 Pts (1-5 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF
Terrence Phillips 6.8 0.21 33 Min, 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 1-5 3PT, 1-2 FT), 8 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO, 2 PF
Willie Jackson 5.0 0.34 15 Min, 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 1 PF
Kevin Puryear 4.1 0.20 21 Min, 12 Pts (5-12 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 4 TO, 4 PF
K.J. Walton 2.8 0.20 14 Min, 2 Pts (1-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-2 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF
Mitchell Smith 0.0 0.00 12 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 PF
Jordan Geist -2.2 -0.25 9 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-1 3PT)
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Russell Woods 14% 50% 1.6 35% 36% 23% 6%
Frankie Hughes 27% 33% 2.4 21% 52% 20% 7%
Cullen VanLeer 11% 27% 1.3 43% 36% 14% 7%
Terrence Phillips 17% 30% 3.7 70% 14% 5% 12%
Willie Jackson 32% 25% 2.1 0% 55% 17% 28%
Kevin Puryear 39% 32% 3.3 25% 50% 8% 17%
K.J. Walton 20% 20% 2.7 46% 31% 15% 8%
Mitchell Smith 6% 0% 0.5 0% 51% 49% 0%
Jordan Geist 11% 0% 0.6 0% 100% 0% 0%

I’m starting to conclude that Mizzou misses Reed Nikko far more on offense than in the rebounding department. He made 12 of 18 shots before getting hurt, and while he is in no way going to be a go-to scorer for this team, Mizzou needs as many random easy buckets as possible.

Russell Woods put a few down on Saturday, but of the nine Tigers who have taken at least 10 2-pointers this year, only Woods (16-for-25), Nikko (12-for-18), and Mitchell Smith (6-for-9) are over 60%, and only Willie Jackson (19-for-33) is at least over 50%. Kevin Puryear is at 46%. Frankie Hughes, KJ Walton, Terrence Phillips, Jordan Geist, and Cullen VanLeer: 41%.

Again, though, everything else was solid if you look past the shooting (which is hard to do). Woods and Walton grabbed seven offensive rebounds, Terrence Phillips had eight defensive rebounds and five assists, and as with the NCCU game, Mizzou did a decent job of getting to the line. And the Tigers actually made 14 of 21 FTs this time! Not great, but better.

An interesting note, by the way, from Daniel Jones:

[Kim Anderson]: “[Cullen] is playing too many minutes. That’s not a criticism of him. I think if he played less minutes, maybe he would be more productive from an offensive standpoint. We’ll probably cut him down some and get some other guys more minutes.”

Anderson said VanLeer's minutes will be spread around, but hinted that K.J. Walton and Jordan Geist might be the most probable candidates to see a bump in playing time.

Anderson said that before the WKU game. VanLeer played only 30 minutes — he had played at least 33 in each of the last five games and at least 35 in four. Walton and Geist struggled and combined for only 23 minutes, but Hughes appeared to get the lion’s share of the minutes bump. He went 35 minutes, more than even Phillips.


Improvement doesn’t matter much when your one primary weakness is a) an enormous one and b) an enormously important one. But it is what it is. If Mizzou even makes simply a below-average percentage of shots moving forward, the Tigers can be a tough out. We’ll see if that can happen.