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Mizzou 67, Emporia State 62: Study Hall

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Rims are cruel, and ball-handling is kind of important.

Basketball is not as random as the sport I spend most of my time writing about. Football features more players, more roles, and, most importantly, a pointy ball. Things can get weird.

There are still rims in basketball, though. Their whims can sometimes make your life heaven and sometimes make your life hell.

The same team that shot 49 percent from 3-point range over its first two games has shot 15 percent over its last two. The same team that made 70 percent of its free throws over its first three games had to rally to shoot 56 percent on Monday night. It’s a good thing Cuonzo Martin doesn’t have any hair; he might have ripped it out last night.

Team Stats

Missouri erased Emporia State from the glass last night, made 55 percent of its 2-pointers, and drew fouls at more than twice the rate than the Hornets. That alone should have been worth a win of 20-plus points.

Mizzou also made two of 20 3-pointers and figured out a way to turn the ball over 17 times in 68 possessions. One in every four possessions resulted in a giveaway. That should have been worth an upset. Luckily, the Tigers were playing a Division II opponent at home. They’re 3-1 because of it.

Player Stats

Your Trifecta: Jontay-Puryear-Tilmon.

Your Trifecta leaderboard for the year (giving three points for finishing first, two for finishing second, and one for finishing third): Kassius Robertson, Reed Nikko, and Kevin Puryear each have five points, Jontay Porter has four, Jeremiah Tilmon has three, and Jordan Barnett and Jordan Geist each have one.

  • Mizzou players 6’7 and taller: 56.0 Adj. GS points
  • Mizzou players 6’6 and shorter: 11 Adj. GS points

I mean, that doesn’t tell the whole story, but it comes pretty close. Mizzou had another 17 turnovers, and this time it wasn’t because of Porter and Puryear — they had only three. But Cullen VanLeer and Kassius Robertson each had two, and Jordan Barnett, in one of the most miserable games of his career, had three (along with some 14 percent shooting from the field).

The shooting is what it is. Mizzou has better shooters than it did a year ago but still isn’t the most prodigiously talented shooting team in the country. (This is especially true for as long as Michael Porter Jr. is visiting specialists instead of playing.) There will be hot nights and cold nights.

But the ball-handling is so much more of a problem than we thought it might be, and we knew it might be a problem. Mizzou is now 289th in offensive TO%, and the Tigers’ BCI rating (Ball Control Index) was its worst yet on Monday night. Against Emporia State.

Luckily, Mizzou has bigs this year. Tilmon did have three turnovers of his own and still managed to commit four fouls in 19 minutes. But improvement is improvement: four in 19 isn’t five in six.

Tilmon combined with Nikko to go 9-for-10 from the field and grab five offensive and four defensive rebounds. Jontay, meanwhile, went a decent 4-for-9 with 11 rebounds by himself. Yes, this trio also went 6-for-13 from the line. Mizzou still doesn't win without them.

With Terrence Phillips continuing his foul-prone ways and Jordan Geist evidently losing the plot, Blake Harris got his longest run yet on Monday: 22 minutes. He wasn’t amazing, but he refrained from shooting 3-pointers and distributed the ball nicely. His BCI (assists and steals to turnovers) was 5.0. The rest of the team’s: 0.8. He might be starting sooner than later.

“We got the win, I think that was the best thing about that.” Indeed, Coach. Now I recommend having a few more of those “shoot 50 percent on your 3-pointers” games in Orlando.