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Missouri is proving that a losing streak requires creativity to remain a losing streak

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Study Hall time!

LSU v Missouri Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Your Trifecta: Puryear-Woods-Phillips.

The good news is, Mizzou is slowly running out of ways to lose. After spending quite a bit of this losing streak (however many games it is now — doesn’t matter) losing because of purely awful shooting from behind the arc, the Tigers are getting creative.

Ole Miss 75, Missouri 71

Mizzou Ole Miss
Pace (No. of Possessions) 69.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.02 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.16 1.34
2-PT FG% 44.4% 43.8%
3-PT FG% 44.0% 41.7%
FT% 35.3% 73.9%
True Shooting % 51.8% 56.7%
FTA/FGA 27.9% 41.1%
Mizzou Ole Miss
Assists 15 11
Steals 2 4
Turnovers 14 12
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
1.21 1.25
Mizzou Ole Miss
Expected Offensive Rebounds 13.8 12.2
Offensive Rebounds 12 9
Difference -1.8 -3.2

Mizzou outshot Ole Miss — a pretty bad team, by the way — on both 3-pointers and 2-pointers. (Not by a lot, mind you.) The Tigers basically split the ball-handling battle and won the rebounding battle. And yet, against the lowest-ranked remaining home opponent, they still lost. How? What pathway to a loss does that leave?

Free throws, of course. Ole Miss went 17-for-23 from the line. Mizzou went [rubs eyes because this can’t possibly be right) 6-for-17.

6-for-17 FROM THE FREE THROW LINE.

HOW.

I mean, I know how: Russell Woods went 3-for-9, and Reed Nikko went 0-for-2. Mizzou’s actually decent free throw shooters — Terrence Phillips (74%), Kevin Puryear (72%), Jordan Barnett (74%), Jordan Geist (74%), Cullen VanLeer (79%) — attempted six free throws. (Granted, they missed three.)

Still, even Woods and Nikko are shooting a combined 58% from the line this year. They made 27% on Saturday. It made a difference.

Mizzou Player Stats

Player AdjGS GmSc/Min Line
Kevin Puryear 33.6 1.02 33 Min, 26 Pts (11-14 FG, 4-4 3PT), 8 Reb (3 Off), 3 TO, 4 PF
Russell Woods 13.2 0.39 34 Min, 13 Pts (5-10 FG, 3-9 FT), 11 Reb (6 Off), 2 TO, 4 PF
Terrence Phillips 10.1 0.31 33 Min, 10 Pts (3-12 FG, 2-7 3PT, 2-3 FT), 5 Reb, 10 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO, 5 PF
Cullen VanLeer 9.8 0.43 23 Min, 9 Pts (3-6 FG, 3-6 3PT, 0-1 FT), 3 Reb, 2 PF
Jordan Barnett 8.1 0.24 34 Min, 11 Pts (4-10 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-2 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 2 TO, 1 PF
Jordan Geist 3.1 0.18 17 Min, 2 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT), 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 PF
Frankie Hughes -1.9 -0.47 4 Min, 0 Pts (0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT), 1 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 2 PF
Reed Nikko -2.1 -0.34 6 Min, 0 Pts (0-0 FG, 0-2 FT), 1 PF
K.J. Walton -2.4 -0.15 16 Min, 0 Pts (0-4 FG), 2 Ast
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
Poss.
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Kevin Puryear 25% 59% 1.4 0% 82% 0% 18%
Russell Woods 23% 34% 1.7 0% 49% 41% 10%
Terrence Phillips 27% 33% 6.7 75% 15% 4% 6%
Cullen VanLeer 14% 41% 0.8 0% 86% 14% 0%
Jordan Barnett 18% 29% 1.1 0% 72% 14% 14%
Jordan Geist 9% 37% 1.5 66% 34% 0% 0%
Frankie Hughes 36% 20% 10.4 80% 14% 0% 7%
Reed Nikko 7% 0% 0.9 0% 0% 100% 0%
K.J. Walton 12% 16% 2.8 75% 25% 0% 0%

I’m not sure how it’s possible for Kevin Puryear to take 10 2-pointers, grab three offensive rebounds, and never end up at the free throw line. But even without freebies, he obviously had a nice game. He was feeling it on 3s, he made seven of 10 2s, and he averaged nearly two points per shot. A team will often figure out how to win when it’s got a guy playing like that. Alas.

Woods’ horrendous outing from the line was unfortunate, not only because it helped Mizzou lose, but also because it overshadowed an otherwise nice day. He shot 50% from the field and grabbed six offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds. That should be enough.

Terrence Phillips’ run of dominant play ended, as he went 3-for-12 from the field and committed five fouls and five turnovers. But he still ended up in the trifecta because he had 10 assists, five defensive rebounds, and two steals. That’s what you call filling the box score ... for better and worse.

Cullen VanLeer’s last three games: 51 minutes, 15 points 5-for-9 3-point shooting, six rebounds. That’s still not enough production overall, but it’s a start. And on a per-minute basis, he was Mizzou’s second-best contributor on Saturday.

Free throws were costly, but if Mizzou gets anything from the trio of Jordan Geist, Frankie Hughes, and KJ Walton, the Tigers probably win. They still nearly won despite these three combining for 37 minutes, 2 points (1-for-9 FG), and minus-1.2 Adj. GS points.


Against two of the least impressive opponents left on the schedule (Alabama and Ole Miss), Missouri went 18-for-39 on 3-pointers (46%) and lost both games anyway. The positive spin there is that if the Tigers’ single biggest weakness is starting to progress toward the mean, and if Mizzou’s defense is still solid (73rd in defensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy), then that will in theory flip some games the Tigers’ way at some point.

The less positive spin: Of 18 SEC games, eight are against opponents ranked 75th or worse per Pomeroy. Mizzou has already played four of them and lost them by an average of seven points. After Wednesday’s trip to Starkville, only three such games will remain. Granted, there aren’t that many good SEC teams, but Mizzou is 0-6 in conference play against teams with an average ranking of 80.7. Average ranking of the 12 remaining opponents: 61.0.

It’s only going to get harder to find a win, and it’s already been 48 days since the last victory. The team is still fighting hard, and for all of the justifiable, heavily warranted criticism Kim Anderson should get (and is getting), he should get credit for that. His team has lost (counts them up) 10 straight games and is still scrapping. But this is obviously dire. But you probably knew that without looking at the stats.