Last night was fun!
On top of everything, Mizzou was able to beat a solid power conference foe for the first time in the non-conference slate since they beat North Carolina State in 2013. That they did it without Michael Porter Jr. in tow? Even better.
Since we’ve got a football game tonight, and Study Hall tomorrow, I thought I’d give everyone three quick thoughts to chew on from last nights 74-59 win over the Iowa State Cyclones.
1. Jeremiah Tilmon is going to be a load
A line of 7-for-9 for 14 points, seven rebounds, and only three personal fouls is everything you could want from Tilmon. But what was better was how he was effective. Tilmon displayed a variety of moves around the basket, including a beautiful baseline spin move away from a coming double team for a basket in the second half.
More than anything it was the slips and rolls off screens which he converted with dunks and layups. Tilmon was everything you wanted him to be and more in just 25 minutes. If he stays out of foul trouble Jeremiah Tilmon is going to have a monster season.
2. An offense for Jordan Barnett and Kevin Puryear!
Running an offense that suits their talent helps a bit. https://t.co/Pf006IyHs1— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) November 11, 2017
The problems with the previous staff are well documented. But it’s a breath of fresh air to watch this offense put players in position to take advantage of their skillsets.
For Barnett, the majority of his points came in one of two ways: kick-outs for an open jumper or crashing towards the basket dive cuts. Barnett is good in transition as well, but he’s not really a guy you want creating a ton of opportunities for himself, and this offense puts him in places to let others create for him.
To a degree, Puryear is similar. He can be more creative around the basket but he was put into a mid-post position more often than not.
Both are able to take advantage of great spacing and find a lot of open shots leading to an incredibly high percentage from the field. Puryear made six of seven and Barnett hit on five of 10 shots and three of seven from 3-point range.
I don’t expect such great shooting all year, but both guys will see their fair share of opportunities to contribute to this new style of offense.
3. Can Cuonzo avoid being conservative?
Mizzou had 31 second-half possessions. Or going at a tempo that would have been one of the 10 slowest nationally last year. https://t.co/GGoloomo1D— Matthew Harris (@MattJHarris85) November 11, 2017
The first half last night was played with great pace. The second half was played with the sluggishness of all the worst tendencies of previous Cuonzo Martin offenses. Now at the point he slowed things down, Mizzou had amassed a comfortable lead and managed to hold Iowa State off throughout the half with efficient offense.
So perhaps the counter to my point is he didn’t need to push pace, instead just shorten the game and get out of the building with a win. I’d rather have continued to push pace and gone for an 80-63 kind of finish rather than slow it down, but this is what we almost expect when it comes to Cuonzo Martin.
Mizzou had two halves of basketball, one with great pace and efficiency and one with slow pace and efficiency. So what are we going to get this season when Michael Porter Jr joins into the fun? Are the Tigers going to play more like the first half and push for more possessions and more shots or will things eventually plod down to how he’s played in the past.
I’m certainly still optimistic, either way, because the offensive weapons Martin has at his disposal are plentiful, and the style and actions they play with are enough to keep the efficiency high regardless of pace.
Still, I encourage him to loosen the reins and let his dogs hunt a little more.
I don’t want to make it sound as though I’m complaining about this win, it was good and fun and I loved how tough of a defensive game they played. It’s also just nice to see the arena full and the energy of the crowd and bench all working together to make basketball fun again.
I’d expect to see Michael Porter Jr. sit out against Wagner on Monday, more as a precaution. It’s smart. If the Tigers can dispose of Iowa State without him they should be able to handle Wagner. And the road tilt against Utah is far more important of a matchup either way.
Welcome back basketball, and more importantly welcome back Missouri basketball!