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Bulldogs use halftime scuffle to propel past Tigers

Both teams struggled to shoot the basketball, but Georgia edged out Missouri 71-66.

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

How much of this post could have been prewritten? Mizzou fought hard but a woeful shooting performance led to another road loss. Check, check, check, check.

STL Post-Dispatch: Tigers can't recover in Athens, drop sixth straight

Columbia Tribune: Bulldogs top Tigers after halftime scrap

KC Star: Mizzou shows fight at Georgia but loses 27th consecutive road game

Even when the Tigers were winning the first half it was still hard to feel excited about it because the inevitable fall was bound to happen. On the road? Against a top half SEC team? Yep, it was bound to happen. This is where the hope is at this stage.

Mizzou Georgia Box Score

The start of the game left a lot to be desired, both teams were clanking jump shots and Georgia was super loose with the ball committing 12 turnovers in the early going.

The worst TO% in the country is 26%, 18-19% is about average. The Tigers didn’t start hot, but with the Bulldogs TOs and ice cold shooting it left the door open. Mizzou did enough to lead by four at halftime. Then something happened. Let’s go to the video:

Sorry if you don’t agree, but the move by Geist is bush league stuff. I’m not a fan of the faux toughness he shows here, similar to how Jason Sutherland used to be and how Patrick Beverly is. I’ll take toughness like Marcus Denmon, J.T. Tiller and Steve freaking Shields. Once Shields saw the Georgia Director of Basketball Operations coach pushing back the Missouri players he stepped in and was ready to go to protect his players. Shields is one of the more fiery coaches on the sideline, but this is more fight than I’ve seen out of this program in a while.

Did it wake up Georgia? Probably.

They came out of halftime with an 11-2 run to take a 31-28 lead. The run stretched to 19-6 before the Tigers were able to steady a bit. They fought back and even took the lead at 52-51, before another 13-2 run all but sealed the game. The culprit for the Tigers? Shooting. Again.

If there’s are positives, it’s two games in a row Anderson has shortened his bench. He’s started guys that are making Missouri more competitive and the Philips off the bench experiment seems to have worked. Jordan Barnett hasn’t shot the ball particularly well but he’s giving you 16 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest over the last three games. K.J. Walton got to the free throw line and was mostly good in his second start, both with double digit points. Kevin Puryear wasn’t good but that was only his 4th game not hitting double digit points. The core guys you hoped would help this year are starting to show out a bit.

If you try something 36 times and only succeed six times, it might be time to try something else. Missouri took 36 three pointers yesterday and only made six of them. If Mizzou had kept their 2FG% (of 52%) and simply taken half as many 3’s (I’ll be nice and take away half of their makes) and instead shot two’s they’d have won by four points. From 2FG:

  • 19/36 - 52.7%

From 3FG:

  • 6/36 - 16.6%

Even more impressive was the 1 for 24 shooting performance from players NOT named Terrence Phillips had from behind the arc. Nine players played, seven attempted a three, two players MADE a three, one of them was Terrence Philips who made five of them. It’s really just amazing.

At this point I’d love for Frankie Hughes to find something of a role. He’s a good player and his ceiling is very high but any confidence he had early is all but gone. He’s still capable but he hasn’t hit a three since the Illinois game after going 0-5 against Georgia, and is 24.5% on the year. His TS% is down to a woeful 38.9%. Hughes can help this team and it would be great if he could make shots, but they aren’t falling right now. He’s got to find another way to help out.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Georgia
Maybe not another 3?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri is currently 346th out of 351 teams in 3FG% at 25.9%. They’ve had one game, against Alabama A&M, where they shot 50%, everything else has been at 35% or below. In fact eight games they’ve shot below 26% from 3FG, the historic level of this teams shooting is just astonishing. I didn’t figure the Tigers would be a great shooting team but couldn’t anticipate the level they’ve reached. It’s amazing really. I look at these numbers and it’s just amazing how bad the shooting is.

Missouri took advantage early and they fought for the entire game, but it wasn’t enough thanks to another game of cold shooting. Can we even call it cold shooting at this stage of the season? It’s just how Missouri shoots... badly. So another night of Missouri shooting impeded their ability to win a game. Then a scuffle right before halftime was the ignition Georgia needed to snap back into it and the crowd got involved. At least it made the second half more energetic to watch, but for the 27the time in a row, and 22nd in a row under Kim Anderson, they lost a true road game.

Up next is Auburn at home on Wednesday. Right now the projection is a 74-73 loss with a 45% chance of a Missouri win. This is the only remaining game on the schedule where they have a better than 40% chance to win.