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Mizzou 99, Wagner 55: Study Hall

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Hello there, Jontay. And Reed.

NCAA Basketball: Wagner at Missouri
There is just nothing better than “Bench celebrating after walk-on makes a 3-pointer” pics. I would buy a coffee table book of them.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Your Trifecta: Robertson-Nikko-Jontay. Just as everyone predicted.


I feel like I’ve been in the front car of the Reed Nikko bandwagon over the last year. Granted, that hasn’t stopped me from misspelling his first name a few times, but that’s neither here nor there.

Nikko looked to me like a legitimately exciting contributor before he suffered the second of what felt like countless injuries last season, and knowing that Jeremiah Tilmon is probably going to have at least a five “10 minutes, five fouls” games this year — he’s 1-for-2 in that regard so far — he’s going to have to make randomly solid contributions to the box score.

You know, like “14 minutes, 8 points (1-2 FG, 6-7 FT), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks.” That kind of contribution. Even against an outmanned opponent, that was really, really exciting to see.

Team Stats

The shooting percentages made me laugh out loud. Yes, Wagner is bad. Yes, Wagner has only one guy taller than 6’8. But damn. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Mizzou produce a True Shooting % of over 70 percent before, much less 79.

Meanwhile, in terms of real FG%, the only time the Tigers have topped 68 percent since 2010-11 was when they shot 70 percent in 2013 against South Carolina. But that game featured only nine 3-point attempts. Mizzou attempted 25 2-pointers and 22 3-pointers last night. And shot 68 percent.

While we’re at it: Mizzou is currently in the top 20 in both 2PT% and 3PT%. Yes, schedule strength. Yes, sample size. I know. You don’t have to tell me. But after the brick-laying exhibitions we saw in recent years, this is freaking manna.

A few other notes:

  • For the second straight game, Mizzou’s rebounding totals weren’t quite as good as I thought watching live. Again, dead balls didn’t help — Wagner had four dead ball rebounds to Mizzou’s three.
  • For the second straight game, Mizzou’s ball-handling numbers were wholly mediocre. Let’s put it this way: right now, per Ken Pomeroy, Mizzou ranks second in the nation in eFG%, 65th in FTA/FGA, 133rd in offensive rebound rate ... and 267th in TO%. Kevin Puryear and Tilmon had a combined five turnovers in 35 minutes, and Jontay Porter contributed three in 21.
  • So uh, I’m guessing that future opponents are going to notice how Mizzou struggled against Wagner’s press in the early part of the second half. Yes, the Tigers had their foot off the gas by that point, and yes, Mizzou was without not only Michael Porter Jr. but also Blake Harris, who hurt his leg in the first half. (As with Porter, we have no idea how serious the injury is.) But odds are good Mizzou’s going to see plenty of pressing moving forward.
  • Even with 15 turnovers, Mizzou averaged 1.4 points per possession. Goodness.
  • 50 fouls and 54 free throws in a 44-point game. I hate early-season college basketball so much.

Again, it’s early, but I can’t say how happy it makes me to see that, again per KenPom, Jontay Porter is currently among the nation’s top 500 in assist rate (175th), offensive rebound rate (206th), defensive rebound rate (271st), 2PT% (329th), and steal rate (477th).

Jontay has his ups and downs, and you can actually see it coming when he’s about to become a space cadet for a minute or two at a time. But he’s also quickly becoming exactly the box score filler I was hoping he would be this year. He’s like a combination of really young Travon Bryant (one of my favorite Mizzou players) and really old Sam Perkins (one of my favorite basketball players), and he’s already my favorite player on the team.

Also:

  • In two games, we’ve seen both versions of Kassius Robertson that I figure we’ll see for most of the year. He forced the issue a bit against Iowa State and took what I will call some unrecommended shots, but he was virtually perfect against Wagner. Any time a guard averages more than two points per FG attempt, he had a ridiculous day. Robertson had 23 in 10. He’s still not really a point guard, but Mizzou isn’t lacking in ball movement and assists. And he wasn’t the reason for the high turnover number.
  • Against ISU, Terrence Phillips, Jordan Geist, and Harris combined for 41 minutes, with Geist earning 24 minutes as the hot hand. Last night, the trio combined for nearly the exact same number of minutes (38), only Phillips was performing the best and got the biggest run. I’m sensing a trend here.

Five players with a “%Pass” figure at 63 percent or higher, i.e. five points guards among the 10 primary players. Yeah, that’ll do.