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Missouri basketball: Winners and losers

In every game, there are winners and losers, this is where we decipher between the two.

Florida v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Instead of writing a boring recap about every game, I’ve decided to bless your eyes with a new recap series called winners and losers. The new feature will highlight the winners and losers of each Mizzou Basketball game.

With a huge test versus Arizona looming, Mizzou had to pick up a win against Miami (Ohio). After an up and down first half, the Tigers figured things out as they rolled to a 81-55 victory.

And we’re off.

Winner: Terrence Phillips’ Point Guard Abilities

While Phillips is still in a bit of a shooting slump (1-8 FG, 1-6 3pt versus Miami), he continues to find ways to contribute. Versus Miami (Ohio) Phillips led the Tigers with 6 assists and most importantly no turnovers. As I’ve stated before, if Mizzou is to have a successful season it’s imperative that Phillips plays the part, of a traditional pass-first point guard.

Through 8 games we have seen just that. The self-proclaimed Floor General has recorded five assists in 6 of his first 8 games. More importantly, Phillips is no longer looking for the empty assists, as he had in the past. This season we’ve seen Terrence looking to set up his teammates by making the correct passes instead of only searching for the assist opportunity.

Obviously, #1 still has to work on reducing the amount of silly turnovers and occasionally over dribbling but overall his ability to effectively run an offense has improved exponentially.

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

Winner: Kevin Puryear and Russell Woods

For the second game in a row, we saw Puryear and Woods providing the Tigers with two viable post options. Puryear has been aggressive all year but recently he has found an efficient touch and the combination of the two makes Mizzou a whole lot better.

Woods, on the other hand, isn’t the most aggressive guy but lately, he’s had a knack for knowing the proper time to demand the ball and then make a play at the basket. Last night Woods poured in 15 points. Seven of his 15 points were via the free throw line and were a result of Woods deciding to put his head down and just going and making a play down low.

Though Woods and Puryear combined for 34 points, their biggest contributions may have been on the boards. The duo combined for 18 rebounds, including 6 offensive rebounds by Woods. If Missouri wants to have any chance against stiffer competition this level of production is essential.

Winner: Cullen Van Leer

The often-criticized guard came out of hiding and scored 14 points while shooting 4-7 from behind the arc. We finally got a glimpse of why head coach Kim Anderson is so high on CVL. Versus the Redhawks, Van Leer looked like a poor man’s Klay Thompson. Which is not an attempt at being disrespectful.

Similarly to Thompson, CVL provided great three-point shooting, little to no rebounds/assists, above average defense and constantly kept moving around the court on offense. Which is exactly what this team needs him to do. Whether last night’s performance was just an anomaly remains to be seen. But if Missouri can get that kind of production out of Van Leer on a semi-regular basis, that would be huge moving forward.

CBE Hall Of Fame Classic Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Loser: Frankie Hughes Shooting Percentage

Don’t let the impressive point totals, distract you from the fact that Hughes is shooting a dismal 34% from the field and just 28% from deep. Coach Anderson is in a tough spot with Hughes, because he can get his shot at any time and can start shooting the lights out at a moment’s notice.

The only problem is that Hughes hasn’t been able to hit shots consistently and hasn’t quite developed a shot filter. While Frankie can be a bit of a black hole, you don’t want to tell a player like him to stop shooting because of his ability to catch fire. Due to Missouri’s lack of scoring Hughes must figure it out on the go.

Loser: KJ Walton

I’ve gone on the record proclaiming that Walton is the most talented player on this team. But outside of a few games, KJ has yet to translate his talent into consistent production. Due to Missouri’s inability to shoot from outside, defenses can pack the paint which limits Walton’s offensive capabilities. Oftentimes, we wind up watching Walton awkwardly contort his body while trying to make in-air adjustments in the paint.

Since Mizzou’s outside shooting woes probably won’t increase much as the season progresses. So Walton must take it upon himself to develop some resemblance of a mid-range/ outside shooting touch.

Terrence Phillips via twitter

Loser: The Mizzou Arena

Last night 3,515 true sons and daughters witnessed the Tigers 26-point drubbing of Miami (Ohio). Which is completely unacceptable for a power 5 conference team. I understand that no one wants to pay to see a losing team, but it goes both ways. It’s a lot easier for a team to play when they have a rocking crowd cheering them on, as Terrence Phillips has noted via twitter multiple times.

It doesn’t have to be a sellout but it should definitely be more fans in attendance especially students. If you need an example of how much fans can assist a team’s performance, look no further than the Rally for Rhyan game last season versus Tennessee.