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Missouri’s victory checklist features 4 items. The Tigers can’t ever check more than 3.

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The week in Mizzou Basketball, Study Hall-style.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgia trifecta: Phillips-Woods-Barnett
Your Auburn trifecta: Phillips-Walton-Barnett

Mizzou began the week ranked 192nd per KenPom and finished it ranked 184th. Technically speaking, that means it was a semi-successful week, at least by meager standards.

Of course, the Tigers also let a road lead go to waste against a solid Georgia team and blew lost out on another Most Winnable Game Remaining opportunity against Auburn.

Here are now your five most winnable games remaining:

  1. January 21: Ole Miss (41%)
  2. February 15: Alabama (36%)
  3. February 11: Vanderbilt (31%)
  4. February 28: Texas A&M (29%)
  5. February 4: Arkansas (25%)

Per Pomeroy, there’s only a 14% chance that Mizzou goes 0-5 in those five games. A win will probably come. But the missed opportunities of the last six games certainly make you wonder if the Tigers can actually close an opponent out at some point.

The good news, as it were, is that this team still isn’t getting blown out. The average score of these last six games has been Opponent 77, Mizzou 70, and four have been decided by five points or less. Mizzou is 350th out of 351 in Pomeroy’s Luck Rating, which basically measures the difference between likely and actual outcomes. Maybe that luck will turn at some point. Or maybe we should just save any sort of good luck for next year.

To the games:

Georgia 71, Missouri 66

Mizzou
Georgia
Pace (No. of Possessions) 78.9
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.84 0.90
Points Per Shot (PPS) 0.92 1.54
2-PT FG% 52.8% 57.6%
3-PT FG% 16.7% 15.4%
FT% 62.5% 67.5%
True Shooting % 41.8% 55.8%
FTA/FGA 22.2% 87.0%
Mizzou Georgia
Assists 11 11
Steals 10 7
Turnovers 13 20
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.62 0.90
Mizzou Georgia
Expected Offensive Rebounds 17.0 11.0
Offensive Rebounds 11 5
Difference -6 -6

The script for Mizzou pulling off a win at some point is basically as follows:

  1. Win the ball-handling battle.
  2. Break even on the glass (i.e. render your opponent as bad on the offensive glass as you are).
  3. Get to the line.
  4. Shoot at a below-average level (but don’t shoot horribly).

None of that is impossible. Mizzou is doing a strong job on the defensive glass and ranks in the top 125 in turnover % on both sides of the court. Plus, the Tigers are 80th in FTA/FGA.

Still, they haven’t managed to do all of these four things at once. Against Georgia, they checked each of the first two boxes but drew just 16 free throws to Georgia’s 40, in part because they were settling for tons of 3-point attempts against UGA’s zone. And they still might have won had they made, say, 30% of those 36 3-pointers. This being Mizzou, however, they made only 17%. And they lost.

It’s impressive for a team to take nearly one 3-pointer per minute without wondering why it’s being allowed to shoot so many 3-pointers.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Terrence Phillips 25.0 0.81 31 Min, 20 Pts (7-17 FG, 5-12 3PT, 1-2 FT), 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO, 4 PF
Russell Woods 20.0 0.69 29 Min, 9 Pts (4-6 FG, 1-4 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 PF
Jordan Barnett 15.6 0.43 36 Min, 15 Pts (7-17 FG, 1-8 3PT), 9 Reb (4 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO, 3 PF
K.J. Walton 13.4 0.48 28 Min, 13 Pts (3-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 7-9 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 6 TO, 3 PF
Jordan Geist 0.6 0.03 21 Min, 5 Pts (2-10 FG, 0-7 3PT, 1-1 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF
Reed Nikko -0.4 -0.07 6 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG), 1 Stl, 3 PF
Cullen VanLeer -1.2 -0.11 11 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT), 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 PF
Frankie Hughes -3.8 -0.35 11 Min, 2 Pts (1-8 FG, 0-5 3PT), 1 Reb, 1 Stl
Kevin Puryear -4.4 -0.16 27 Min, 2 Pts (1-7 FG, 0-1 3PT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 1 Stl, 1 TO, 4 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Terrence Phillips 26% 38% 2.6 37% 53% 7% 3%
Russell Woods 12% 57% 1.9 52% 27% 21% 0%
Jordan Barnett 25% 34% 2.7 46% 44% 0% 10%
K.J. Walton 23% 36% 2.5 21% 18% 39% 22%
Jordan Geist 24% 24% 2.8 49% 42% 5% 4%
Cullen VanLeer 8% 16% 1.8 75% 25% 0% 0%
Frankie Hughes 32% 11% 1.8 0% 100% 0% 0%
Kevin Puryear 13% 11% 0.7 0% 88% 0% 13%

Terrence Phillips: 5-for-12 on 3-pointers. The rest of the team: 1-for-24. Jordan Barnett was 1-for-8, and that was by default the second best shooting performance of the bunch.

That is incredible. No team should be this awful at shooting the basketball.

Even with the hilarious shooting, Mizzou still almost managed to beat a decent team and might have had Kevin Puryear not had his worst game of the season.


Now to the Auburn game:

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn 77, Missouri 72

Mizzou
Auburn
Pace (No. of Possessions) 72.7
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.99 1.06
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.06 1.31
2-PT FG% 34.0% 47.1%
3-PT FG% 27.8% 36.0%
FT% 69.7% 54.5%
True Shooting % 43.6% 52.4%
FTA/FGA 48.5% 55.9%
Mizzou Auburn
Assists 11 13
Steals 7 4
Turnovers 15 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.20 1.21
Mizzou Auburn
Expected Offensive Rebounds 18.2 14.5
Offensive Rebounds 25 15
Difference +6.8 +0.5

Back to the checklist:

  1. Win the ball-handling battle. Mizzou didn’t lose it, at least. And that’s always a decent feat against a Bruce Pearl team.
  2. Break even on the glass. Mizzou dominated on the glass.
  3. Get to the line. 33 free throws. Check!
  4. Shoot at a below-average level (but don’t shoot horribly). 34% on 2-pointers, 28% on 3-pointers. Mizzou was merely bad from beyond the arc here, but ... 34% on 2-pointers! That’s horrific! And, of course, the Tigers also missed 10 of those 33 free throws.

If we ignore the fact that Auburn is not good, this was another respectable performance. The Tigers showed spark on the offensive glass and got 22 points on 15 FG attempts from Phillips and Jordan Geist. That should have been enough against a bad team. It was not.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player
AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Terrence Phillips 17.9 0.56 32 Min, 12 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-2 3PT, 5-8 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk, 5 TO, 4 PF
K.J. Walton 15.2 0.52 29 Min, 8 Pts (2-6 FG, 4-6 FT), 13 Reb (3 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF
Jordan Barnett 14.1 0.40 35 Min, 20 Pts (6-18 FG, 2-8 3PT, 6-6 FT), 6 Reb (4 Off), 3 TO, 3 PF
Russell Woods 8.8 0.29 30 Min, 7 Pts (2-8 FG, 3-5 FT), 8 Reb (6 Off), 1 Stl, 4 PF
Frankie Hughes 7.5 0.54 14 Min, 9 Pts (3-9 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-3 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF
Jordan Geist 4.7 0.25 19 Min, 10 Pts (4-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-3 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 TO, 4 PF
Reed Nikko 2.5 0.84 3 Min, 2 Pts (1-1 FG), 1 Reb, 1 PF
Kevin Puryear -1.4 -0.04 34 Min, 4 Pts (1-10 FG, 2-2 FT), 9 Reb (4 Off), 1 TO, 4 PF
Cullen VanLeer -1.7 -0.43 4 Min, 0 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT), 1 PF
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Terrence Phillips 22% 34% 4.9 63% 16% 12% 9%
K.J. Walton 15% 34% 2.4 47% 24% 21% 8%
Jordan Barnett 28% 31% 2.1 0% 69% 20% 11%
Russell Woods 14% 28% 1.1 0% 65% 35% 0%
Frankie Hughes 33% 35% 4.8 48% 37% 11% 4%
Jordan Geist 22% 40% 2.5 34% 34% 15% 17%
Reed Nikko 14% 100% 0.9 0% 100% 0% 0%
Kevin Puryear 14% 14% 1.0 0% 78% 14% 8%
Cullen VanLeer 10% 0% 0.7 0% 100% 0% 0%

Man oh man, Kevin Puryear picked the wrong time to have an awful week. He was 2-for-17 from the field and got to the line only twice. His average offensive rating over the previous six games was a decent 97.7. This week, he hit 34 against Georgia and 61 against Auburn. An average Puryear week maybe results in two wins.

I don’t want to make that sound like this was all on Kevin, obviously. Frankie Hughes and Cullen VanLeer went 1-for-13 from 3-point range this week, and the noteworthy part was that Hughes actually made one. Reed Nikko is still clearly limited. Russell Woods is negating some solid work on the boards by missing more than half his free throws. Phillips and Geist combined for eight turnovers against Auburn. Jordan Barnett was 10-for-19 on 2-pointers but insisted on also attempting 16 3-pointers (he made only three). Et cetera. A good team could overcome a couple of bad performances from one of its most valuable players. But Mizzou is not a good team.


KJ Watch

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence Phillips was the undoubted MVP of the week; in two games, he scored 32 points, went 6-for-14 from behind the arc, and produced 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and 42.9 Adj. GS points. That’s fantastic.

But as this site has become an Advocates for KJ Walton Getting More Minutes (AKGMM) support group, I do have to note this: In two games this week, KJ earned 57 minutes, scored 21 points on 11 field goal attempts, made 11 of 15 free throws, grabbed 16 rebounds (four offensive), and dished three assists with five steals.

There were plenty of turnovers and fouls in there, too, and he still can’t shoot from the perimeter. But Walton is bringing far more to the table than the guys who were getting far more minutes than him in non-conference play. That doesn’t make his early lack of PT any less confusing. He played a combined 17 minutes in the losses to Illinois and Eastern Illinois. 17! And his recent play has justified our outrage at that.