Your Trifecta: Puryear, Tilmon, Barnett.
I’m assuming every Missouri fan and writer had the exact same thought some time on Friday night, and Sam has already written about it here, but it has to be stated again all the same: now that we know the final result, Michael Porter Jr. suffering a slight injury and Mizzou mostly dominating anyway was ... kind of the best possible result, right? At least, as long as MPJ’s injury issues go away at some point?
Let’s dive into the stats! I feel like this is the first Study Hall people have actually looked forward to in about four and a half years.
- A lot was made of Kassius Robertson starting at point guard, but in this one, at least, everyone was the point guard. Robertson, Jordan Barnett, Jontay Porter, and Blake Harris all had either two or three assists, Jordan Geist had four, and Mizzou’s 17 overall assists were more than enough for a game with a 67-possession tempo.
- A total of 17 turnovers, however, was a bit on the problematic side. It came in the name of making lots of passes and creating lots of great shots, but you’d still like that BCI to be around 1.9 or 2.0 at least. To get there, Mizzou needed to limit itself to 13 or so turnovers instead of 17.
- The main turnovers culprit? Kevin Puryear, with five. I guess you’ll live with that when he’s also scoring 17 points on just seven field goal attempts, huh?
- I have no idea when Iowa State grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. I’d have guessed about six. Granted, three of the 10 were “TEAM” rebounds (likely balls that were knocked out of bounds with possession given to ISU), but that was still surprising. Mizzou was still +2.3 in terms of expected rebounds, but watching live, I was guessing it would be more like +6 or +7 for Mizzou.
- Still, when you’re creating infinitely better shots than your opponent, anything in the black for you all but clinches victory. And of all the stats above, the true shooting percentage (65% to 45%) most defined the game. Mizzou took pretty good shots overall and, thanks to defensive effort and length, length, length, prevented ISU from doing the same.
- Puryear and Barnett are not always going to combine for 11-for-17 shooting, but the shots they were getting were mostly good ones. They also combined for 10 defensive rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. That’s lovely work right there.
- Tilmon’s 7-for-9? Awfully sustainable considering how close most of his shots were to the basket. This guy has a lot of aspects of an old-school post man’s repertoire, but he is very much a new-school athlete, much smoother than his frame would suggest. He’s still going to fight foul trouble a lot this year, but we got a nice, extended look at what he can do when he isn’t.
- Geist, Blake Harris, and Terrence Phillips: 41 minutes, 10 points on seven FG attempts, six assists, three turnovers, two steals. Hell yes. I’ll take that every damn night, no matter who delivers what part of the production.
- Harris and Jontay both looked like freshmen at times, but we still got a smooth-as-hell corner 3 from Jontay and a couple of flashy assists from Harris.
- I loved seeing Reid Nikko involved in the rotation. He’s going to be randomly counted on this year in the games in which Tilmon gets in foul trouble, and he was fine, even if he wasn’t even slightly a part of the offense.
- It was great seeing so many guys leaned on here and there. Mizzou’s offense is going to spend quite a bit of time in “MPJ and isolation” mode, but what we saw on Friday suggests that we’re definitely going to see that offense and only that offense anytime Porter is on the floor.
This veers close to “intangibles!” territory, but it’s really hard for me to avoid thinking that the crowd had a lot to do with the team’s energy and effort. We know that effort and tenacity are big parts of a Cuonzo Martin team, of course, so it wasn’t all on the crow, but ... that was a party. And it remained one even when the man of the hour left as soon as he showed up. Mizzou Arena was a morgue in recent years. Friday was proof that it can still light up when it has a reason to.